Despite securing sole custody of her children, Tunisian authorities prevented a woman and her daughters from leaving for Germany. The two girls had been held by their father's family in Tunisia for almost three years.
A German woman was blocked from leaving Tunisia on Sunday after she attempted to bring her daughters back to Germany after they'd been abducted and held by their father's family in Tunisia.
The German Embassy in Tunis is currently in contact with local authorities about the case, the German Foreign Ministry said.
Family detained at airport:
The family was detained at the Tunis-Carthage Airport as they attempted to travel to Germany.
Besides the mother and her two daughters, the woman's sister, her brother-in-law, and a family friend were also detained.
German and Tunisian courts granted the woman sole custody of her daughters. She also secured an exit permit for the girls in February, but Tunisian authorities reportedly did not acknowledge the document.
The Tunisian Foreign Office and the German embassy are in contact over the case.
The children, aged 9 and 11, had been held by their father's relatives in the city of Kasserine for over two years.
The mother of the two girls, Katharina Schmidt, said that authorities wouldn't let the family's lawyer or embassy workers meet with the detained group.
"We're completely exhausted and are afraid of what will happen now," the mother told public broadcaster NDR.
Authorities at the airport confiscated the family's passports and later took them to a police station, Schmidt's sister Maria Szur told news agency dpa.