Saad Hariri says he is 'free' in Saudi Arabia

Tuesday, 14 November 2017 03:25 Written by  Heart of Asia Read 53 times

Saad Hariri has rejected rumors he is being held in Saudi Arabia against his will and pledged to return to Beirut "very soon" to affirm his decision to quit as Lebanon's prime minister.

 

Hariri made the comments from Saudi Arabia's capital, Riyadh, speaking publicly for the first time since his shock resignation eight days ago. 

Speaking on Sunday on Future TV, a station affiliated with his political party, Hariri said he was free in Saudi Arabia.

"Here in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, I am free. I have complete freedom, but I want to look after my family as well," he said, adding that he planned to return to Lebanon in the near future.

"I'm not talking about months ... I'm only talking about days and I'll go back to Lebanon."

'Something wrong'

In an unexpected move, Hariri, a Sunni Muslim politician and longtime ally of Saudi Arabia, quit as Lebanon's prime minister on November 4 during a visit to Saudi Arabia.

Reading out his resignation in a televised statement from Riyadh, Hariri blamed interference in Lebanon by Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah for his decision to quit, adding he feared an assassination attempt. His father, Rafik Hariri, was killed in a truck bomb blast in 2005.

But Lebanese officials have said Hariri is likely to be under either house arrest or in temporary detention in Riyadh.

Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr, reporting from Lebanon's capital, Beirut, said Hariri's televised appearance on Sunday was aimed at persuading the people in Lebanon that he was not being held against his will - a widespread belief in the country.

"The majority of the Lebanese believe, in one way or another, that there is something wrong," said Khodr.

"The aim of this interview really is to try and convince the majority of the Lebanese that he is not a hostage, that he has the freedom of movement and that the Saudis are not dictating to him what to say or what to do."