Saudi man held in $2,463 phone bill mix-up

Bahrain officials insist he pays for unpaid 2002 bill despite mistaken identity claims.

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By  Soren Billing Published  June 28, 2009

A Saudi man visiting family in Bahrain was barred from leaving the island kingdom this weekend until he had settled an unpaid SAR9,240 ($2,463) phone bill from 2002.

Bahraini officials on Friday stopped the man from returning to his home in Al Khobar on Saudi’s east coast, prompting a sleepless night for the man and his family who initially were given no reason for the move, Saudi daily Al Riyadh reported.

On Saturday it emerged that a man with the same name as the Saudi citizen had run up a SR9.240 phone bill in the country in 2002. The unpaid bill had put the man on an official list of people barred from leaving Bahrain.

A lawyer from the Saudi embassy in Manama confirmed that the man had been in Bahrain in 2002 but said he had never had a mobile phone in the kingdom.

He was able to return to Saudi Arabia on Sunday only after his family in Bahrain helped him pay the bill, but insisted he would try to get the money back.

Authorities said it could take up to two weeks for the case to be resolved.

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