Dutch Libya evacuee "not a spy"
A Dutch engineer who was to be evacuated by a Navy helicopter from the Libyan city of Sirte on 27 February is not a spy but a staff member who had been working there for two years on the construction of the port quay, the company’s head says. The helicopter and its three crew members were captured by security forces loyal to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi during the failed mission.
In an interview with Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad, Royal Haskoning CEO Erik Oostwegel says he wants to put an end to allegations that the mission to rescue the man was mounted because he is a spy. The CEO says his company did not exert any pressure to have the man evacuated. He says he is outraged that his company is thought to have received special treatment, insisting that the engineer was simply a Dutch national in distress.
The engineer had failed to leave Sirte on a flight to Greece because his passport was in Tripoli, Mr Oostwegel goes on to say. When the company warned the defence ministry, it was told the engineer could be evacuated from the beach by a Navy frigate off the Libyan coast. The engineer himself declined the offer as excessive for one person, especially because things were quiet in Sirte. It was the company that insisted on his evacuation, according to Mr Oostwegel, and went ahead and accepted the MOD’s evacuation offer.
According to the engineer, the mission failed, Mr Oostwegel claims, because it took the helicopter 45 minutes to reach the coast, because the mission took place by daylight and because the din caused by the helicopter alerted people in the area.
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© Radio Netherlands Worldwide