Glimpse Of Hope For Release Of ICC Interpreter Detained In Libya

Editor’s Note:
It is critical that the recent media circus surrounding the detention of ICC staff not detract in any way from the immediacy of the plight of Saif Gaddafi.  If anything, these events reveal how vulnerable Saif is and how much he and all of Libya’s political prisoners need our support.  Please join in demanding Saif’s immediate and unconditional release.

We Demand Saif Al Islam Gaddafi’s Immediate Release

Alexandra Valiente
Libya 360°
Viva Libya!

Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour said on Thursday that Lebanese interpreter Helen Assaf, who was detained in Libya along with members of the International Criminal Court, might be released soon.

“The Libyan authorities gave us a glimpse of hope that Assaf will be released soon,” Mansour told As Safir newspaper.

He noted that the Foreign Ministry is following up the conditions of the Lebanese expats.

“Our lines are open to receive any complaint or information on any emergency that the Lebanese across the world go through,” Mansour pointed out.

Libyan authorities put four envoys from the ICC in “preventive” detention in prison for 45 days while investigating an alleged threat to national security.

Lawyer Melinda Taylor was found carrying documents for Moammar Gadhafi’s son Seif al-Islam, while Taylor’s interpreter Assaf was considered an “accomplice.”

Taylor works with Xavier-Jean Keita, the defense counsel that the ICC appointed for Seif al-Islam.

The team was in Libya to help Seif choose a defense lawyer, and the court has said the visit was authorized by the country’s chief prosecutors.

According to As Safir, Lebanese charge d’affaires in Libya Hassan Saleh briefed Mansour on a meeting he attended at the office of the European Union Ambassador in Libya with Russian, Spanish and Australian ambassadors.

Mansour demanded Saleh to follow up the case of Assaf as “every Lebanese should be surrounded with the needed care when passing through this kind of conditions.”

Assaf is held at a prison in Zintan, 150 kilometers from the city Tripoli, the daily said.

“She is in a good condition,” Saleh informed Mansour after meeting with Assaf.

As Safir reported that the meeting between Assaf and Saleh was in the presence of the Russian, Spanish and Australian ambassadors who also met with their detained citizens.

The ambassadors weren’t allowed to talk privately with the four-member delegation.

ICC Team Detained In Libya In Good Health

Four International Criminal Court officials detained in Libya since last week have said they were in good health and were being well treated, the ICC said in a statement on Friday. The detainees met with ICC envoys in the Libyan town of Zintan, where they have been detained since June 7 while visiting Moammar Qaddafi’s son Seif al-Islam, the court said. Local authorities and the Libyan public prosecutor facilitated Tuesday’s brief meeting, which “took place in the presence of local authorities’ representatives,” said the ICC, which is based in The Hague. Australian lawyer Melinda Taylor and three of her colleagues were detained after a meeting with Seif, who has himself been detained in Zintan 170 kilometers (110 miles) southwest of Tripoli since his November 19 arrest. Their main mission was to help Seif, 39, choose a lawyer to defend him against ICC charges of crimes against humanity. Libyan officials allege Taylor was carrying a pen camera and attempting to give Seif a coded letter from his former right-hand man Mohammed Ismail, who is on the run. Tripoli said the ICC delegation overstepped its mandate and “committed an act which had nothing to do with its mission, exchanging documents that represent a threat to national security,” adding that the case was now in the hands of local judges. While the ICC welcomed Libya’s assistance in the matter, it pointed out that an ICC suspect had the right to appoint a lawyer of choice, have enough time to prepare a defense and talk freely and in confidence with that lawyer. “Such communication may include discussing and exchanging documents and discussing potential witnesses and defense positions in the case.” But it added: “The court is very keen to address any regrettable misunderstandings on either side about the delegation’s mandate and activities during its mission in Libya.” “The ICC expresses its strong hope that the release of the four persons will take place with no delay in the spirit of cooperation that has existed between the court and the Libyan authorities,” it added. Australia has said Taylor and her co-defendants are entitled to immunity but warned Wednesday there appeared to be little chance of their early release, with Libyan authorities saying they faced 45 days of preventive detention to conduct investigations, according to its attorney general.



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