Lebanese Interpreter Arrested as ‘Accomplice’ in Alleged ICC Spying in Libyaإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
An Australian lawyer and a Lebanese interpreter detained after meeting Seif al-Islam were being investigated for the crime of spying and complicity, a Libyan official said as an International Criminal Court team arrived in Tripoli to try to secure their release.
"The delegation just arrived now to negotiate with the Libyan authorities and the prosecutor general for the (ICC) team's release," Ahmed Jehani, Libya's envoy to the international tribunal, said on Sunday.
An ICC team of four people on Thursday visited Seif al-Islam, son of slain dictator Moammer Gadhafi, in the town of Zintan, 180 kilometers from the capital, where he is in detention.
The ICC said in a statement on Saturday that the four had been detained after the meeting.
But Jehani said that only two members of the team, Australian Melinda Taylor, and her Lebanese interpreter, Helen Assaf, were in detention, while two men, a Russian and a Spanish national, stayed behind out of their own accord.
"They arrested just two, the others stayed voluntarily," said Jehani.
"Melinda was arrested because she was surprised exchanging papers with the accused Seif al-Islam," he said, adding that Assaf was being held as an "accomplice."
"She (Melinda Taylor) had a pen camera and a letter from one of the men most wanted by the Libyan judiciary," Mohammed Ismail, the former right hand man to Seif who is now on the run, he added.
Jehani said he had seen the letter which consisted of "drawings" and "symbols," a "code" which cannot be understood except by the person who sent it and the intended recipient, Seif.
"She is under investigation because she committed a crime. According to Libyan law, it would be spying, communication with the enemy."
Taylor works with Xavier-Jean Keita, the defense attorney appointed by the ICC.
The team was there to help Seif choose a defense lawyer and that the visit was authorized by Libya's chief prosecutors, according to the ICC.
But Taylor's wardens, members of the same Zintan brigade that captured Seif, say she should have declared the documents instead of sneaking them in.
ICC president Judge Sang-Hyun Song noted on Saturday that his staff have "immunity when on an official ICC mission."
"We are very concerned about the safety of our staff in the absence of any contact with them.... I call on the Libyan authorities to immediately take all necessary measures to ensure their safety and security and to liberate them."
Jehani said: "The Libyan authorities should respect the immunity but Melinda broke the law in a very grave manner."
The Hague-based court wants to try both Seif, 39, and his late father's spymaster, Abdullah Senoussi, for crimes against humanity committed while trying to put down last year's bloody revolt.
But the new regime in Libya wants to put Seif on trial in a local court.