Aussie lawyer free if she reveals Libyan outlaw: report


An Australian lawyer being held in Libya will be released if she reveals the whereabouts of the country’s most wanted man, a key player in the former regime of Muammar Qaddafi, a report said on Tuesday.

Melinda Taylor was detained in Libya late last week after she met with Seif al-Islam, the detained son of the slain Qaddafi, as part of a four-person team from the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Libyan officials have alleged that 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.

Libyan government spokesman Mohammed al-Hareizi told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that Taylor would be freed if she gave them information on Ismail.

“We want this guy. It is very important to catch this guy because this guy is very, very, very danger(ous) for us,” he said.

Hareizi claimed Taylor had met with Ismail given that she had a letter from him. "That means she (had met) him (somewhere), I don't know where," he said.

Asked whether the 36-year-old Australian would be released if she revealed where Ismail was, he replied: “Yes. Yes.”

“We don’t have anything against this woman. Just we need some information from her, after that she will be free,” he added.

The ABC said that Taylor had interviewed Seif while an observer was present and apparently did not know that the observer was able to understand English perfectly.

“She said very bad words about us and she spoke with Seif, she (told) him: ‘You are not guilty’,” Hareizi said.

Hareizi insisted that Taylor was “in safe hands” but Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr said he was concerned at reports that the four members of the ICC team had been moved from house arrest to an unidentified prison.

A judicial source in Libya said Monday the four had been placed in “preventive” detention in prison in the village of Zintan for 45 days while officials investigated the alleged threat to national security.

Australia, which has called for Taylor and her colleagues to be released, said it was essential that Libya grant immediate consular access to the four, but Carr said it was unclear who was holding the ICC team.

“We’ve got very limited access to the information that we would want,” Carr told Sky News.

“It’s very likely that Libya’s National Transitional Council has limited authority in Zintan.”

Carr said when he had spoken to Libya’s Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammed Abdel Aziz two days ago the Libyan had undertaken to see that Taylor could telephone her husband in The Hague.

“When I last checked, that hadn’t happened,” Carr said. “Again this would point to limited authority by the central authorities when it comes to what's happening in Zintan.”

The ICC team was in Libya to help Seif choose a defense lawyer. The Hague-based ICC wants to try Seif, 39, for crimes against humanity.