French-Tunisian consultant for Qatar files espionage case against UAE, Swiss firm
A French-Tunisian consultant who works for the state of Qatar filed a complaint against a Swiss company and the United Arab Emirates for espionage on Thursday, according to reports.
Public relations consultant Sihem Souid filed a complaint against the UAE and Geneva-based private intelligence company Alp Service with the Paris prosecutor's office, French newspaper Le Monde reported Friday.
Souid alleges Alp Service conducted surveillance missions outside her Paris home on behalf of the UAE, and that her home was broken into and possessions including her laptop were stolen.
This took place between 2017 and 2019, in the midst of a blockade by Arab countries including the UAE to commercially stifle Qatar.
Reports by The New Yorker and the French investigative outlet Mediapart earlier this week indicated that Alp Service conducted the missions on behalf of the UAE.
"Souid, her family and her company were clearly targeted as tools to destabilise Qatar. The methods used are terrifying: a map and photos of her home, connecting flights," Le Monde reported Souid's lawyer Celine Astolfe as saying.
"A complaint was immediately filed for an investigation to be carried out to shed light on these facts and possibly stop other operations of the same nature."
Souid told Le Monde: “Whatever enmity the United Arab Emirates has for Qatar, it does not justify my being instrumentalised, targeted and destabilised in order to weaken my client.”
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt cut ties with Qatar and enacted a blockade on the country in June 2017.
The Arab quartet accused Qatar of links to extremist groups and being too close to Iran, claims that Doha strongly denied.
Since then, Qatar and its Gulf neighbours have mended ties at the Al-Ula Summit in January 2021, which saw a resumption of diplomatic relations.
This was bolstered during the Qatar 2022 World Cup, which saw the UAE host thousands of football fans and visits to the host country by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and UAE President Mohammed bin Zayed.