US Issues Arrest Warrant for Tunisian-American Accused of Abducting His Children

Source: Tunisia Live

Edeanna Johnson Chebbi, and American citizen, has called for the American and Tunisian governments to help bring back her two children who she says were abducted by her ex-husband, Tunisian-American Faical Chebbi.

According to Ms. Chebbi, her ex-husband picked up the couple’s two children for his bi-weekly visit on Friday, November 11th, 2011, from Ms. Chebbi’s residence in Virginia.  She then received a phone call from her husband the next day: he was calling from Tunisia and had no intentions of returning the children.

Mr. Chebbi granted full legal and physical custody of Eslam, aged 5, and Zainab, aged 2, to his then-wife in January, 2011. In October of the same year, the couple’s divorce was finalized.

Ms. Chebbi holds that Mr. Chebbi violated U.S. law by leaving the country with Eslam and Zainab. At the time that Faical left, both parents were under a court order not to remove the children from the U.S.

There are currently state and federal warrants in the U.S. for the return of Zainab and Eslam, and for the arrest of Faical Chebbi.

Ms. Chebbi has gained attention for her cause in Virginia and within the United States: A petition to return the two children was signed by 18,000 Americans. In addition, a rally was organized in front of the Tunisian Embassy in Washington, D.C.

Ms. Chebbi stated that officials at the Tunisian Embassy reassured her long before the kidnapping that they would not provide Faical with passports for his children without notifying her. However, an official at the embassy told Tunisia Live that they gave Ms. Chebbi no such assurances. The official stated that Mr. Chebbi had every right to acquire Tunisian passports for his two children who, according to Tunisian law, are Tunisian citizens due to their father’s nationality.

The Tunisian Embassy refused to further comment on the case, insisting that they had not broken any Tunisian laws, which are the only laws they are required to follow.

Ms. Chebbi stated to Tunisia Live that she has hired a Tunisian lawyer to plead her case in the country’s courts.

Although in violation of U.S. custody law, Mr. Chebbi is within his legal rights in Tunisia. Tunisian law gives the father full discretion as to where his minor children travel and reside. In addition, children born in a foreign country to a Tunisian father automatically obtain Tunisian citizenship.

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