Tampa mother meets Lebanese ambassador to get her son back

Hillsborough County

A Tampa Bay area mother has met with the Ambassador from Lebanon about getting her young son returned to her from the city of Beirut.

Rachelle Smith tells 8 On Your Side she met with Lebanese Ambassador Gabriel Issa on Monday in the hopes of having her 4-year-old son Dexter returned home from Lebanon. 

Rachelle Smith is in a bitter custody battle with her son’s father, Ali Salamey, who Smith says violated a court order and took their 4-year-old son Dexter to Lebanon. Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio have pledged to help Smith during her trip to the capitol in September.

“It’s just been extremely difficult trying to navigate through this situation on my own,” said Rachelle.

Smith says she hasn’t seen her son since September. She tells 8 On Your Side that the boy’s father has severed all forms of communication with her. 

She’s hoping the assistance of Rubio, Nelson and Congressman Bill Posey will pressure Lebanon leaders to act on behalf of the young boy. 

“I hope that they use every tool at their disposal [to] help assist with the prompt and safe return of my son. He’s a U.S. citizen. His father is a U.S. citizen.  And he obtained a passport illegally,” said Rachelle.

While Salamey had sent videos showing a happy child, Rachelle is concerned about his wellbeing in a country where he has no family and doesn’t speak French, the language of Lebanon.

Salamey also sent emails to News Channel 8, saying Rachelle is lying, and he is just trying to insure his son’s safety and is not hiding from anyone.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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