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French police raid PSG boss over lobbyist’s torture claims

French police raided the home of Paris Saint-Germain boss Nasser Al-Khelaifi on Wednesday in an investigation into a man’s claims of detention and torture in Qatar, a source close to the case told AFP.

Franco-Algerian Tayeb Benabderrahmane, 42, filed a complaint in January saying he was arrested in January 2020 in Qatar, where he had recently moved to work as a lobbyist.

Benabderrahmane said he was held for six months and questioned by local police, particularly about documents they believed he held that could prove compromising for Al-Khelaifi, a Qatari national.

Initially released to house arrest, he claims he was finally allowed to leave Qatar in November 2020 after signing a non-disclosure agreement covering the documents.

A note from France’s DGSI domestic intelligence service suggests that the documents could include intimate videos of Al-Khelaifi with a woman.

Conversations between Al-Khelaifi, a former FIFA secretary-general and Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, saved in an old smartphone of his, might also touch on how the Gulf monarchy secured the 2022 World Cup and the allocation of TV rights to the competition, the DGSI note says.

Benabderrahmane is himself the subject of a separate investigation over allegations of blackmailing Al-Khelaifi.

The PSG boss’s spokesman told AFP that on Wednesday “the investigating magistrate asked for further information and access, which were completely provided to him in full transparency and cooperation with the authorities”.

Al-Khelaifi’s lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Organised crime investigators last week raided the town hall of Paris’s seventh district, run by former government minister Rachida Dati, as well as several lawyers’ offices in relation to the probe.

Benabderrahmane claims Dati made a show of helping to secure his release while trying to cover up the detention on behalf of the Qataris.

People close to Dati meanwhile have described the lobbyist as a “master blackmailer”.

Al-Khelaifi’s lawyers said in April that they would file a defamation suit of their own against Benabderrahmane.

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