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Wandsworth prison ‘escapee’ Daniel Khalife’s mother breaks silence: ‘He doesn’t live in reality’

Farnaz Khalife said she was worried about her son and just wants to ‘help him’

Joe Middleton
Tuesday 12 September 2023 10:56 BST
Van believed to hold Daniel Abed Khalife arrives at court after arrest

Daniel Khalife’s mother has broken her silence and urged her son, who is accused of spying for Iran, to get help as he “doesn’t live in reality”.

Farnaz Khalife is the first family member to speak out after her son was charged with going on the run from Wandsworth Prison, south-west London, last Wednesday.

The 47-year-old former nurse from Kingston, southwest London, who now lives in rural Wales told The Times that Khalife, 21, enjoyed watching programmes about the SAS and always had aspirations to join the army.

He joined the forces at 16 and did his basic training in Pirbright, Surrey, and then later attended the Defence School of Communications Information Systems in Blandford Forum, Dorset.

Khalife was then posted to the 1st Signal Brigade of the Royal Signals at Beacon Barracks, Stafford.

His mother described the army as “strict” but said he was “happy”, however, he began to call her less frequently after he turned 18.

She last saw him at Christmas when she was on her way back to Teddington, south-west London, after visiting her daughter.

Daniel Khalife appearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in central London on Monday (PA)

The 47-year-old spotted him at a bus stop: “He was waiting with a suitcase for the 190 bus. I hugged him but he was embarrassed. I took a photo of him. I hadn’t seen him for a year.”

She added that she was worried about her son, who she called Dan, and that she just wanted to “help him”.

“When he was arrested, he laughed and winked, that’s not normal. I feel helpless. This is not reality, it is a fantasy. He doesn’t think like a normal person,” she added.

Daniel Khalife is charged with escaping from custody at Wandsworth Prison (Metropolitan Police/PA) (PA Media)

Mrs Khalife found out that police were looking for her son during a visit to see her daughter in London at first thought “he must have killed himself”. She said: “I had a panic attack and then I sat down and opened my phone and read the whole thing.”

Khalife was arrested on a canal towpath in west London at 10.41am on Saturday by a plain-clothes counter-terrorism officer.

Prior to his alleged escape, Khalife had been on remand at Wandsworth Prison after being charged with terror offences in January. He allegedly planted a fake bomb at an RAF base and gathered information that might be useful to terrorists or enemies of the UK.

At a short hearing on Monday, prosecutor Thomas Williams said the former soldier is alleged to have escaped on the underside of a food delivery vehicle.

Mr Williams said Khalife is accused of strapping himself to the lorry using “material which may have been from bed sheets”.

The court also heard that, when Khalife was arrested, he had a bag containing cash and a mobile phone with him. He was remanded in custody and will next appear at the Old Bailey on September 29.

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