Jeremy Hunt tells judge he has asked Egypt to help find missing British girl
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt says Egyptian government ministers have been asked to help find a 12-year-old British girl who went missing more than seven years ago and is thought to be living in Cairo.
He told a judge overseeing family court litigation that an official at the British Embassy in Cairo has discussed Elsa Salama’s case with a member of the Egyptian government.
Mr Justice Mostyn on Wednesday made public a letter he had received from Mr Hunt, outlining steps taken at the Foreign Office, as he examined latest developments in the case at a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London.
The judge had asked Mr Hunt for help earlier this year. He said he appreciated the minister’s response to his request.
Elsa is at the centre of a battle between her divorced parents.
Egyptian former teacher Tamer Salama took his daughter, then aged four, from her mother Naomi Button in December 2011 while all three were visiting his relatives in Egypt.
Ms Button, 45, a leadership consultant from Leeds, was forced to return to England alone and has not since seen Elsa, who she thinks is living with Salama’s mother in Cairo.
Ms Button launched family court litigation after arriving back in the hope of getting Elsa home and is continuing that fight.
Salama, who subsequently returned to England without Elsa, was jailed in January 2012 for breaching judges’ orders to arrange his daughter’s return to England or to reveal where she was.
But a judge ordered his release in December 2013 after deciding that continuing to keep him in prison was no longer proportionate or justifiable.
Mr Hunt told Mr Justice Mostyn in his letter that a number of “actions” had been taken.
He said a minister had already met Ms Button and the case had been raised with the Egyptian justice ministry.
Mr Hunt said he had written to his Egyptian counterpart, foreign minister Sameh Shoukry, and added: “I have requested his assistance to underline the priority that we attach to this case and have requested that the Egyptians explore any additional avenues that have not yet been tried.”
He said a British Embassy official had also met Yasser Hashem, the assistant minister of consular affairs.
“Mr Hashem said that he would look into the case and see if there was anything that could be done to resolve it,” Mr Hunt went on.
“I will continue to keep the court updated and officials in my department will continue to remain in contact with Ms Button.”
Mr Justice Mostyn ordered Salama to assist Egyptian authorities by providing detail of relatives in Egypt.