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Libya demands US return seized terrorist suspect

09 October 2013, 08:28

Tripoli - The US seizure of a terrorist suspect during a raid in Tripoli provoked demands on Tuesday that Washington return the alleged al-Qaeda leader, the official Libyan (LANA) news Agency reported.

A GNC statement described the US operation and the kidnapping of Abu Anas al-Libi "a flagrant violation of (Libya's) national sovereignty".

The statement called on the US to allow the Libyan authorities and al-Libi's family to get in touch with him and allow the Libyan authorities to grant him access to a lawyer.

Libya's Ministry of Justice on Monday summoned US ambassador Deborah Jones, and she met with Justice Minister Salah al-Marghani, US and Libyan officials said.

The capture of al-Libi in Tripoli on Saturday has put the government of Prime Minister Ali Seidan under pressure. Many Libyans are angry that a Libyan citizen could be grabbed in a US military operation and taken out of the country.

A group calling itself Command Centre of the Revolutionaries of Libya threatened to take into custody foreigners who are residing in the country illegally.

The US however is considered an ally because it supported the opponents of dictator Moamer Gaddafi in the 2011 civil war. State Department Spokesperson Marie Harf declined to answer whether the government knew about the plans to capture al-Libi.

She noted that the US values its partnership with Libya on counterterrorism.

Harf repeated US insistence that al-Libi was being treated "humanely" and was detained "lawfully" by the United States military outside of Libya. US officials have refused to confirm reports that he is being held on a US Navy ship, the USS San Antonio, in the Mediterranean Sea.

Human rights

Harf said the International Committee of the Red Cross was in contact with the US about having access to the prisoner.

She said that it was clear that al-Libi is "in our custody" and was facing indictment in the United States on charges of involvement in the 1998 bombing of US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania that killed 224 people.

Long-standing US charges against al-Libi also address his alleged role in al-Qaeda's conspiracy to kill US nationals "and to conduct attacks against US interest worldwide," in Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Somalia, she said.

The charges are on file in the southern district federal court of New York, where other suspects in the 1998 bombings were tried and convicted more than a decade ago.

Amnesty International, the rights advocacy organization, charged that the US had violated "fundamental human rights principles" in carrying out al-Libi's abduction. It called for the US to "not pursue the death penalty" against him.

"The USA has long resorted to abduction to gain custody over certain suspects, and this practice predated the attacks of 11 September 2001," the organisation said.

Harf said that it is the "preference" of the US to "capture terrorists as opposed to taking lethal action, because we do get a great deal of intelligence from them when we are able to capture them."

Ambassador Jones has been in the post less than a year. She was nominated about six months after a terrorist attack on the US mission in Benghazi, Libya, that took the life of ambassador Christopher Stevens.

Harf said she did not know of any connections al-Libi may have had to that attack in September 2012.



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