Libya demands US return al-Qaeda suspect

General National Congress demands US hand back Abu Anas al-Liby who was seized from Tripoli in a weekend raid.

Liby is accused of playing a role in the 1998 twin bombings of two US embassies in East Africa [Reuters]

Libya’s top political authority, the General National Congress, has demanded that the United States hand back the alleged al-Qaeda operative its forces seized from the capital, Tripoli, in a weekend raid.

A Congress statement on Tuesday read out by spokesman Omar Hmidan stressed “the need for the immediate surrender” of Abu Anas al-Liby and described the US operation as a “flagrant violation of [Libya’s] national sovereignty”.

The text, which was passed by the Congress, also called for the “need to allow the Libyan authorities and members of his family to get in touch with him and guarantee him access to a lawyer”.

It was the first official statement from Libya that clearly condemned the operation in which Liby was snatched by US forces in broad daylight in Tripoli on Saturday.

Prime Minister Ali Zeidan insisted earlier on Tuesday that all Libyans should be tried on home soil.

The Congress declaration came after Libya’s Justice Minister summoned US Ambassador Deborah Jones to answer questions about the surprise raid.

Liby – whose real name is Nazih Abdul Hamed al-Raghie – was on the FBI’s most-wanted list with a $5m bounty on his head for his alleged role in the 1998 twin bombings of two US embassies in East Africa that left 224 dead.

His wife, Uma Abderahman, told Al Jazeera that her husband was taken from his home by masked men.

“There were at least ten of them and they were all armed, with silenced weapons,” she said. “It seems like they had drugged him.”

In a statement, Human Rights Watch called on the US to ensure Liby was quickly charged before a judge and given access to a lawyer in accordance with international law, adding that he should be tried in a civilian court.

A US interrogation team is questioning the alleged senior al-Qaeda figure who was whisked onto a navy ship in the Mediterranean Sea, US officials said.

Libya-US ties

The Libyan Prime Minister said that the US raid would not hurt Libya’s relations with Washington.

“Our relationship with the USA is important, and we care about that, but we care too about our citizens, which is our duty,” Zeidan said at a press conference with his Moroccan counterpart Abdelilah Benkirane during a three-day visit to Rabat.

“They helped us with our revolution. Our relationship will not be affected by this event, which we will settle in the way that we need to.”

US officials declined to say if the Libyan government was given advance notice of the raid.

US Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday defended the capture, saying complaints about the operation from Libya and others were unfounded.

Kerry said the suspect was a “legal and appropriate target” for the US military and will face justice in a court of law.

The raid has angered powerful armed groups in Libya, who said the US violated Libyan sovereignty and accused the Libyan government of colluding with the raid – or at least turning a blind eye.

Many armed groups have posted messages on social networking sites calling for revenge attacks on strategic targets including gas export pipelines, planes and ships, as well as for the kidnappings of Americans in the capital.

The US will move about 200 Marines to a US base at Sigonella, Italy from one in Spain in the next day or so, US military officials said, bolstering the US ability to respond to any fallout from the raid in Libya.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies