This follows allegations that Al-Khelaifi was involved in the transfer of “likely compromising” documents from a French-Algerian citizen, Tayeb Benabderrahmane, who claims to have been tortured in Qatari custody in 2020, according to a complaint submitted by Benabderrahmane’s lawyers to French authorities.
“On January 19, the Paris prosecutor’s office opened a preliminary investigation into acts of kidnapping; sequestration with torture and acts of barbarism in an organized gang; extortion in an organized gang; threats and acts of intimidation and association with criminals. This followed the receipt of two complaints with civil action regarding Mr Benabderrahmane,” the prosecutor’s office told CNN but did not name Al-Khelaifi.
The Paris prosecutor’s office confirmed to CNN Wednesday that three investigating judges have been assigned to the case. This typically denotes a progression from the preliminary investigation.
The complaint from Benabderrahmane’s lawyers does not specify what the alleged documents are, but claims that “they were likely to be compromising for certain high-level people in Qatar, even foreigners.”
Al-Khelaifi, who is a Qatari citizen, denies any wrongdoing. On Wednesday, his representative directed CNN to a statement which they said “Al-Khelaifi issued to L’Equipe in November, 2022.”
“You are talking about professional criminals,” Al-Khelaifi said. “They’ve changed their lawyers more times than they’ve changed their stories and their lies. It is the ultimate media manipulation.
“I’m just amazed so many people have taken their lies and contradictions as credible – but that’s the media world we’re in today. Justice will run its course – I don’t have time to talk about petty professional criminals.”
Lawyers representing Benabderrahmane, Romain Ruiz and Gabriel Vejnar, told CNN on Wednesday: “Mr. Tayeb Benabderrahmane welcomes the opening of this investigation by the French justice system and will naturally continue to defend his rights as he has done in the other proceedings he has initiated in order to establish the seriously detrimental nature of the treatment he has been subjected to by the Qatari authorities as well as by its representatives in France and abroad.
“Mr. Benabderrahmane wishes to emphasize that, contrary to what is often asserted, he has never been implicated in extortion or blackmail against Nasser Al-Khelaifi,” Ruiz and Vejnar added.