Libya returns Swiss citizens to embassy

10th November 2009, Comments 0 comments

The Swiss foreign ministry says the two detainees were returned to the Swiss embassy in Tripoli on Monday.

Geneva -- Two Swiss citizens who were detained in Libya during a diplomatic spat were returned to the Swiss embassy in the Libyan capital on Monday, the Swiss foreign ministry said.

"On Monday, 9 November 2009, the two kidnapped Swiss citizens were returned to the Swiss embassy in Tripoli by the Libyan authorities without any explanations," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

"According to the embassy, the two are in good condition considering the circumstances," it added.

The Swiss government in November suspended an agreement with Libya that aimed to resolve a dispute sparked by the arrest of one of Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi's sons in Geneva in 2008.

The move was motivated partly by the disappearance in late October of the two Swiss businessmen, who have been prevented from leaving Libya for more than a year.

Tripoli first launched a series of retaliatory sanctions, including a freeze on some business relations, against Switzerland over the arrest of Hannibal Kadhafi and his pregnant wife in July 2008.

The two Swiss businessmen in Tripoli were refused exit visas and were charged with alleged immigration offences.

However, instead of being allowed out of the country under the normalisation deal struck by Bern and Tripoli this August, the two went missing after they were invited out of the Swiss embassy for a medical check-up.

Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey accused Libyan authorities of kidnapping them, while Libya said they were being kept in a "safe location".

The Swiss government says Libya has failed to follow the agreement on normalising relations, which included a controversial apology by President Hans-Rudolf Merz for the Kadhafi arrest in Geneva in 2008.

Following the latest development in the 15-month-old dispute, Swiss authorities also disclosed earlier in November that they imposed unspecified restrictions on visas for Libyan travellers.

Swiss media reports suggested that the Kadhafi family was directly targeted by the restrictions.

AFP / Expatica

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