Lebanon's Prime Minister, Saad Hariri, who was reported to be under house arrest in Saudi Arabia following a visit to the oil-rich kingdom earlier this month, headed to France early on Saturday (18 November).
While on the way to the airport, Hariri tweeted that the claims about him being held in Saudi Arabia were a lie. Addressing the German Foreign Minister, Sigmar Gabriel, who recently commented that Hariri was being held in the kingdom against his will, he wrote : "To say that I am held up in Saudi Arabia and not allowed to leave the country is a lie. I am on the way to the airport Mr. Sigmar Gabriel."
Two day ago on Thursday, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir was also quoted in the media as saying that "accusing Saudi Arabia of holding Hariri is completely baseless".
"It doesn't hold merit as Hariri is free to go anywhere he wants," the minister added and explained that Hariri was in Saudi Arabia due to concerns about the security situation in Lebanon.
Confirming the statement, a day later, Hariri too wrote on Twitter that his stay in the kingdom was to hold talks with Saudi officials on the future of the situation in Lebanon and its relations with the Arab region. "All the other stories about my stay and leaving or dealing with my family's situation are just rumours," read a translation of his remarks in Arabic.
In a following message, the prime minister also stated that any attack on a Saudi citizen or on a property of the kingdom will be seen as an attack on Hariri.
Earlier, Hezbollah — the Shia political party, also considered a militant group in Lebanon — had accused Saudi Arabia of illegally detaining Hariri and forcing him into resigning from the prime minister's post to destabilise the country.
Meanwhile, the Saudi foreign minister recently accused Hezbollah of disturbing regional peace and stability by supporting Houthi militants in Yemen. Hezbollah must learn to "respect Lebanon's sovereignty," he said, according to Arab News.
Houthis had fired a ballistic missile on a Riyadh airport earlier in November fuelling tensions with the kingdom and sparking rumours of an all-out war with the Houthis and their alleged supporter, Iran.
Meanwhile, Riyadh has ordered its envoy to Germany to return to the nation in protest against Gabriel's comments, made during a press conference with his Lebanese counterpart.
"Saudi Arabia has decided to recall its ambassador to Germany for consultations and will give the German ambassador in the kingdom a letter protesting these unfortunate and unjustified statements," the Saudi state news agency SPA said, according to the BBC.