Salah al-Marghani and Deborah Jones at the opening ceremony of the Al-Gauia Reform and Rehabilitation Center in Misrata on August 13, 2013
Libya's Justice Minister Salah al-Marghani and the US ambassador to Libya Deborah Jones pictured at the opening ceremony of the Al-Gauia Reform and Rehabilitation Center in Misrata on August 13, 2013 © Mahmud Turkia - AFP/File
Salah al-Marghani and Deborah Jones at the opening ceremony of the Al-Gauia Reform and Rehabilitation Center in Misrata on August 13, 2013
AFP
Last updated: October 8, 2013

Libya summons US envoy over seized Al-Qaeda suspect

Libya said Tuesday it had summoned the US ambassador over the capture by American forces of an alleged Al-Qaeda operative in Tripoli, as activists urged that the man's rights be respected.

The country is bristling after Libyan Abu Anas al-Libi was snatched from his car by US special forces in broad daylight in a Tripoli street on Saturday.

Prime Minister Ali Zeidan insisted Tuesday that all Libyans should be tried on home soil, and the country's highest political authority called the raid a violation of Libya's sovereignty.

The justice minister summoned US Ambassador Deborah Jones to answer questions about the operation.

"Justice Minister Salah al-Marghani summoned the ambassador of the United States on Monday morning to ask for answers to several questions relating to the case" of Libi's capture, a ministry statement said.

Marghani and officials from the foreign ministry met members of Libi's family, who were told of the meeting with Jones, the statement added.

At the end of an official visit to Morocco on Tuesday, Zeidan said that while he valued Tripoli's "important" relationship with the United States, Libyan citizens should not be tried abroad.

"We insist that Libyan citizens must be tried in Libya, and Libya will not deliver its citizens abroad for trial," Zeidan told reporters in Rabat.

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

The United Nations Support Mission in Libya backed Tripoli's calls for clarification.

"The government of Libya and the Libyan people have every right to know the circumstances of the abduction of the Libyan citizen... and to demand full respect of international and national laws," UNSMIL chief Tarek Mitri said in a statement

Libi -- whose real name is Nazih Abdul Hamed al-Raghie -- was on the FBI's most wanted list with a $5 million (3.7 million euro) bounty on his head for his alleged role in the 1998 twin bombings of two US embassies in East Africa.

He is reportedly being held aboard a US naval ship in the Mediterranean.

The foreign affairs committee of Libya's General National Congress, the country's highest political authority, condemned the incident as a "kidnapping."

It was a "clear violation of Libyan sovereignty," said a statement, which added that the foreign minister and the intelligence chief had been summoned for clarification.

'Hunt down and expel illegal foreigners'

Meanwhile, the Operations Room of Libya's Revolutionaries, a group of ex-rebels who fought to oust dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011, said it was on high alert "in light of the deterioration in security and damage to the country's sovereignty by foreign intelligence bodies."

It ordered its fighters to be prepared for orders to "hunt down and expel foreigners who are illegally in the country."

US Secretary of State John Kerry has defended the operation to capture Libi, calling him a "legal and appropriate target."

Speaking on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Indonesia on Monday, Kerry said Libi had committed "acts of terror" and had been "appropriately indicted by courts of law," but refused to say whether Libya had been informed of the raid in advance.

"We don't get into the specifics of our communications with a foreign government on any kind of operation of this kind."

Rights groups have criticised the operation, urging the US to respect Libi's rights and to give him access to legal advice.

Human Rights Watch called on the United States to make sure that Libi is charged quickly in a civilian court.

"The US needs to respect his rights so that he can be fairly tried in a civilian court," said HRW's Laura Pitter.

"That means ensuring he gets a lawyer during any questioning and that he is promptly brought before a judge and charged."

A day earlier, London-based Amnesty International sharply criticised Libi's capture, saying it violated "fundamental human rights principles".

"The US government should immediately confirm his whereabouts and provide him access to legal counsel, medical care and family members," the watchdog said.

The operation in Tripoli was one of two US raids at the weekend.

Navy SEALs launched an attack on a stronghold in the southern Somali port of Barawe of the Al-Shebab, targeting an elusive Kenyan commander of the Islamist group.

Their success was unclear, as they were forced to withdraw before they could confirm whether they had killed their target.

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