Heartbreak for Leeds mum as court hears her daughter is now 3,500 miles away

An Egyptian former teacher who took his daughter from her Leeds mother five years ago has told a judge the youngster is now 3,500 miles from the UK and beyond his control.

Elsa Salama was taken from her English mother by her Egyptian father nearly five years ago
Elsa Salama was taken from her English mother by her Egyptian father nearly five years ago

Elsa Salama - who will be 10 in February - vanished in December 2011 after her father Tamer Salama took her from her mother Naomi Button while all three were visiting Egypt, judges have heard.

Ms Button, a leadership consultant in her 40s from Leeds, has not seen Elsa since and has launched family court action in England in the hope of getting her back.

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Mr Salama - who lives in Manchester and has lived in Nottingham and Southampton - was jailed in January 2012 for breaching judges’ orders to arrange Elsa’s return to England or to reveal where she was.

He was released in December 2013 after a judge ruled that continuing to keep him in prison was no longer proportionate or justifiable.

Mr Justice Baker, the judge currently overseeing the litigation at hearings in the Family Division of the High Court in London, has heard that Elsa is living with Mr Salama’s mother in Cairo.

And Mr Salama, who is also in his 40s, says Elsa is under the control of his relatives in Egypt.

“The people who are in control are 3,500 miles away,” Mr Salama told Mr Justice Baker at the latest hearing on Friday. “The family is in control.”

He added: “The family is not prepared to do anything (Elsa) is not willing to do.”

Mr Salama has failed in a bid to bar journalists from reporting the latest stage of litigation.

He says detail aired at private family court hearings should remain private.

He has complained that previous media coverage has been partisan and has not given his side of the story.

But Mr Justice Baker says the case has previously been reported as a result of Mr Salama being jailed for contempt at a public hearing.

He said judges had made enormous efforts to reunite Elsa with her mother in recent years - and he said the media had assisted

He said on any view the case was in the public domain.

And he says the latest stage of the litigation can be reported.