Libyan PM: citizens must be tried in Libya

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Libyan citizens must be tried in their own country, Prime Minister Ali Zeidan said on Tuesday, days after U.S. special forces captured a suspected al-Qaeda leader in Tripoli.

“We insist that Libyan citizens must be tried in Libya, and Libya will not deliver its citizens abroad for trial,” Agence France-Presse quoted Zeidan as saying to reporters in Rabat, at the end of an official visit to Morocco.

Zeidan’s comments were his first since U.S. Special Forces abducted Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai, known by his alias Anas al-Libi, on Saturday. He is alleged to be a senior al-Qaeda member and is wanted by the United States in connection to the bombing of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 that killed 224 civilians, with a $5 million bounty on his head.

The attacks on the embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were al-Qaeda’s first major attack.

Before Zeidan’s statement, Tripoli said it had summoned U.S. ambassador Deborah Jones to seek clarification about the raid on Saturday, in which Libi was snatched from his car in broad daylight.

But the prime minister said Libya valued its “important” relationship with the United States, “which has helped us since the start of the revolution.”

He added: “Our concern about our citizens is another duty and responsibility.”

On Sunday, Tripoli said it had demanded an explanation from Washington over the “kidnap” of one of its citizens.

“The government of Libya and the Libyan people have every right to know the circumstances of the abduction,” the Associated Press quoted Zeidan as saying.

Libi is reportedly being held aboard a U.S. naval ship in the Mediterranean.

Meanwhile, Tariq Mitri, the U.N. representative in Libya, emphasized in a statement the importance of national sovereignty and the rights of the accused to a fair trial.

(With AFP and The Associated Press)