Support pours in from abroad for Swiss 'kidnapped' by Libya

30th October 2009, Comments 0 comments

International support from Washington, Madrid and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference has poured in to Switzerland over the affair of two Swiss businessmen who have been "kidnapped" by Libya.

Geneva-- The two Swiss businessmen have been prevented from leaving Libyan territory after a diplomatic spat erupted in July 2008 over the arrest of one of Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi's sons in Geneva.

Last month, the two went missing after they left the Swiss embassy to undergo a medical check-up at the request of Libyan authorities.

Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey said they were "kidnapped by Libyan authorities and hidden in an unknown location, in flagrant violation" of consular conventions, while Tripoli said they are being held in a "safe location."

"Not only the US government, but also other governments would be ready to help Switzerland," said US ambassador in Bern, Donald Beyer, in an interview published Tuesday in Swiss newspaper Die Suedostschweiz.

Even as the Swiss government's tone hardened against Tripoli, Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos also assured Bern that Switzerland has the support of Spain, which will hold the rotating presidency of the European Union in 2010.

"At the moment, we must allow Swiss diplomats to do their work while showing our solidarity and responding to all calls for help which are made," he told Swiss Italian newspaper Il Corriere del Ticino in an interview published Friday.

The OIC has also offered to the two countries to find a solution to resolve the diplomatic spat.

However, Bern has kept mum on international offers of assistance.

The Swiss-Libyan spat erupted in July 2008 after police in Geneva arrested Hannibal Kadhafi and his wife in a luxury hotel over allegations that the couple had mistreated two servants.

Swiss police detained the Kadhafis for two days, sparking outrage from Libyan authorities and a string of retaliatory measures against Switzerland although the charges were dropped.

The Swiss businessmen in Tripoli were also prevented from leaving the country last year after they were accused of immigration offences.

Merz flew to Tripoli in August and apologised to the Libyan people over the Geneva incident.

His controversial apology was presented as counterparty for the swift return of the two businessmen, along with an agreement with the Libyan government to normalise relations within 60 days.

However, the 60 days have since lapsed.

AFP/ Agnes Pedrero/ Expatica

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