British authorities ‘secretly’ granted the aunt and cousins of Syrian President Bashar al Assad the right to live in the UK, after the aunt had promised to invest millions of dollars in the UK, according to a report published by the Telegraph.
The Telegraph added that the woman, 63, is the fourth wife of Bashar al-Assad’s uncle, Rifaat al-Assad, 80, who left Syria in the mid-eighties after a power struggle with his brother, then ruler Hafez al Assad, and is living between France and Spain. Rifaat owns many properties in both countries, as well as a palace in central London worth $13 million, in addition to apartments and residences in Paris and south of Spain.
Last October, UK authorities rejected granting the UK nationality to the wife of Rifaat and three children, but the family appealed the verdict in front of a UK court but it was rejected again on the grounds that granting them the nationality might “reflect negatively on the relations of the UK with other countries,” according to a statement by Assad's aunt back in 2006.
She was later granted an investor visa as shown in government documents, while one of her sons enrolled in a well-reputed UK public school in London.