Archive for the ‘Politicos’ Category

PRESIDENT URIBE EXPLAINS UNILATERAL RELEASE OF FARC PRISONERS

Friday, February 18th, 2011

ID 07BOGOTA4029
SUBJECT PRESIDENT URIBE EXPLAINS UNILATERAL RELEASE OF \
DATE 2007-06-05 18:06:00
CLASSIFICATION CONFIDENTIAL
ORIGIN Embassy Bogota
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SIPDIS \
\
SIPDIS \
\
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/05/2017 \
TAGS: KJUS PGOV PINR PREL PTER CO
SUBJECT: PRESIDENT URIBE EXPLAINS UNILATERAL RELEASE OF \
FARC PRISONERS \
\
REF: BOGOTA 3879 \
\
Classified By: Political Counselor John S. Creamer. \
Reasons: 1.4 (b) and (d) \
\
——- \
Summary \
——- \
\
¶1. (C) President Uribe explained in a radio and television \
news conference on June 4 that his unilateral FARC prisoner \
release was a goodwill gesture to gain the freedom of 56 \
political hostages held by the FARC, including the three U.S. \
hostages. XXXXXXXXXXXX told Polcouns \
President Uribe’s unilateral initiative was designed to head \
off what Uribe perceived as growing domestic and \
international pressure on the GOC to accept a demilitarized \
zone (“despeje”) to jump start humanitarian accord talks. A \
joint statement by Spain, France, and Switzerland welcomed \
Uribe’s release of the FARC prisoners and encouraged the FARC \
to respond to the initiative. End summary. \
\
——————————— \
Uribe’s Explanation to the Nation \
——————————— \
\
¶2. (U) In a radio and television news conference on June 4, \
President Uribe explained that his unilateral FARC prisoner \
release was a goodwill gesture to gain the freedom of 56 \
political hostages held by the FARC, including the three U.S. \
hostages. Uribe said the GOC had cleared close to 200 \
prisoners who would be required to renounce their FARC \
membership, commit not to return to the FARC or other \
criminal activity, and to participate in a reinsertion \
program. As for the release of the highest ranking FARC \
inmate, informal FARC “Foreign Minister” Rodrigo Granda, \
Uribe said he had refused to renounce his FARC membership, \
but had agreed to act as a peace facilitator. Granda was \
transferred from La Dorada prison to the Catholic Bishop’s \
administrative offices in Bogota. \
\
——————————————- \
Uribe’s Rationale for FARC Prisoner Release \
——————————————- \
\
¶3. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX told \
Polcouns on June 4 President Uribe’s unilateral initiative to \
release some FARC prisoners reflected his perception that \
domestic and international pressure on the GOC to accept a \
demilitarized zone or “despeje” to jump start humanitarian \
accord talks was building. Internal polls showed growing \
numbers of Colombians accepted a despeje, and Colombia felt \
“increasingly alone on the international stage–both in the \
region, Europe, and the U.S.” Uribe feared the Europeans \
would support the FARC demand for a despeje and wanted to \
pre-empt European pressure. His decision to release some \
FARC members was designed to relieve the pressure to accede \
to a despeje, highlight the FARC’s intransigence, and win \
some support for a military rescue. A joint statement by \
Spain, France, and Switzerland on June 4 welcomed Uribe’s \
action and encouraged the FARC to respond to the initiative. \
Sarkozy’s office said the French president had “explicitly \
requested” that Uribe release Granda and welcomed his \
Colombian counterpart’s “very important and courageous \
decision.” \
\
——————————————— — \
International Support for FARC Prisoner Release \
——————————————— — \
\
¶4. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX said French President Nicholas Sarkozy had \
asked Uribe to release Granda. Uribe decided to accommodate \
Sarkozy’s request, telling XXXXXXXXXXXX and the Colombian High \
Command that Granda’s release was “a cheap price to pay” to \
\
win Sarkozy’s support and to get another advocate for \
Colombia within the G-8. Still, XXXXXXXXXXXX said the GOC \
believed the French do not have an independent channel to the \
FARC. They rely on SWISS official and academic Jean-Pierre \
Gontard to communicate with the group. XXXXXXXXXXXX speculated it \
was the SWISS who had urged Sarkozy to ask for Granda’s \
release. He said the FARC’s and Granda’s negative reaction \
to the initiative indicated the SWISS had misread the FARC’s \
position. XXXXXXXXXXXX said the French appear to be talking with \
the FARC through a “broken telephone.” \
\
——————————— \
GOC Considers No Risk to Security \
——————————— \
\
¶5. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX said the release of 200 lower-ranking FARC \
would pose no risk to GOC security. Armed Forces Commander \
General Padilla and other commanders supported Uribe, with \
Padilla saying it was better to release the prisoners \
unilaterally rather than as part of a despeje or negotiation. \
XXXXXXXXXXXX said separating those FARC willing to accept the \
release from more committed FARC in jail would also help \
isolate/identify hardliners and weaken their position. He \
said the FARC continued to maintain control over most FARC \
prisoners held by the GOC. \
Drucker \
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THUG LIFE: HANNIBAL AL-QADHAFI’S ARREST PROMPTS FISSURE IN SWISS-LIBYAN RELATIONS

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011
ID 08TRIPOLI592
SUBJECT THUG LIFE: HANNIBAL AL-QADHAFI’S ARREST PROMPTS FISSURE IN
DATE 2008-07-22 16:04:00
CLASSIFICATION CONFIDENTIAL
ORIGIN Embassy Tripoli
TEXT C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 TRIPOLI 000592

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR NEA/MAG

E.O. 12958: DECL: 7/22/2018
TAGS: PGOV PREL KCRM CVIS ECON EAIR LY SZ
SUBJECT: THUG LIFE: HANNIBAL AL-QADHAFI’S ARREST PROMPTS FISSURE IN
SWISS-LIBYAN RELATIONS TRIPOLI 00000592 001.2 OF 003 CLASSIFIED BY: John T. Godfrey, CDA, U.S. Embassy – Tripoli, Dept of State.

REASON: 1.4 (b), (d) 1. (C) Summary: The arrest in Geneva of Hannibal al-Qadhafi, son of Muammar al-Qadhafi, and his wife has prompted a serious diplomatic fissure between SWITZERLAND and Libya, which has accused Swiss police of using unnecessary force, of having violated Hannibal’s diplomatic immunity, of having violated diplomatic protocol by not granting Libyan diplomats immediate consular access to him, and of deliberately seeking to embarrass Libya because of SWITZERLAND’s “well-known” dislike of Arabs. Efforts by the Swiss government to accord Hannibal preferential treatment earned no quarter from the GOL, which has reduced the number of flights between the two countries, ceased issuing visas to Swiss citizens seeking to travel to Libya, and harassed Swiss companies in Libya. Since Hannibal’s arrest a week ago, two Swiss companies have been closed on the pretext that their registration papers were not in order and one Swiss businessmen has been detained for irregularities with his residency permit. Diplomatic efforts to smooth over the incident are underway: the Swiss Foreign Minister spoke with her Libyan counterpart today, and a high-level Swiss delegation is scheduled to arrive in Tripoli tomorrow for talks aimed at restoring equilibrium to bilateral relations. The GOL’s reflexive efforts to attack Swiss commercial interests and cease issuing visas to Swiss citizens underscore the extent to which the regime treats business as an extension of politics and the sensitivity of anything to do with the al-Qadhafi family. The incident also reflects the gap – perceived by some to be growing – between average Libyans, who take a dim view of the al-Qadhafi clan’s embarrassing and repeated falls from grace, and a hidebound regime that sees the state as an extension of the al-Qadhafi family empire. End summary.

ABUSING THE HELP

2. (C) Swiss Ambassador Daniel von Muralt gave CDA and A/RSO an extensive readout on July 22 on the recent arrest in Geneva of Hannibal al-Qadhafi, son of Muammar al-Qadhafi, and the subsequent rift in Swiss-Libyan bilateral relations. Hannibal and his wife, who is nearly nine months pregnant, together with a sizeable retinue of bodyguards and assistants, were in Geneva for the delivery of their child. Two of their household staff, a Moroccan man and a Tunisian women, contacted a Swiss NGO to complain that Hannibal and his wife had physically abused them. The NGO contacted Swiss police and warrants were issued by a Swiss magistrate for the two. Swiss police informed Libyan diplomats at the Libyan missions in Geneva and Bern that they intended to take Hannibal and his wife into custody for questioning about allegations that they had physically abused their assistants and detained them illegally by confiscating their passports. (Note: Von Muralt explained that a large number of Arabs, many of them wealthy citizens of Gulf states, visit and live in SWITZERLAND and have a reputation of abusing their domestic help. The scope of the problem is such that some Swiss NGO’s essentially specialize in “rescuing” domestic help who are abused, physically and otherwise, by their well-heeled employers. End note.)

HANNIBAL REFUSES TO GO QUIETLY

3. (C) Swiss police officers arrived at Hannibal’s room at the Hotel President Wilson on July 15 to serve the warrants, but were told by Libyan diplomats at the hotel that Hannibal and his wife did not intend to surrender themselves into custody. After an hour and a half of fruitless negotiations, Swiss police used a hotel key to enter the room. Von Muralt said two bodyguards posted just inside the door of the suite’s entryway physically attacked the Swiss officers, who subdued the bodyguards and relieved them of their concealed sidearms. The bodyguards did not have permits for the weapons. The Swiss officers, some of whom had drawn their sidearms when attacked by the two bodyguards at the entrance, then forced open the doors to the suite’s bedrooms; Hannibal’s wife and three year-old daughter were hiding in one and he was hiding in another with six other bodyguards and other members of his entourage.

PREFERENTIAL TREATMENT …

4. (C) Swiss officers took Hannibal’s wife to a hospital, where she remained under police custody. Hannibal was taken in an armored sedan (vice a police van) to the Ministry of Justice building, where he was held in a private room July 15-17. Emphasizing the special treatment accorded to Hannibal, Von Muralt said Hannibal, a chain smoker, was allowed to smoke despite a prohibition against doing so in all Swiss public buildings. In addition, von Muralt said that although Swiss law permitted authorities to detain Hannibal incommunicado for 2-8 days, he was permitted to make a telephone call shortly after TRIPOLI 00000592 002.2 OF 003 his arrest. Swiss authorities assumed he would call his father, Muammar al-Qadhafi; however, Hannibal insisted on speaking instead with his sister, Aisha al-Qadhafi. Von Muralt said contacts close to the al-Qadhafi family told him that Hannibal has lived in fear of father since a series of incidents in which he assaulted Italian police officers in Rome (2001), attacked police in Paris after being stopped for speeding on the wrong side of the Champs Elysees while inebriated (2004) and received a four-year suspended prison sentence from a French court after beating his pregnant girlfriend, who refused to let him into their hotel room (2005). Hannibal was banned from traveling in the European Schengen zone between 2005 and 2008; he successfully obtained a visa from the Swiss Embassy in Tripoli in February 2008. …

EARNS NO QUARTER FROM AN ANGRY AISHA

5. (C) Aisha al-Qadhafi arrived in Geneva on July 17 and promptly issued a statement to the press in which she accused Swiss police of having used excessive force, and the Swiss government of discriminating against Arabs and perpetrating a “deliberate plot against the al-Qadhafi family”. Aisha closed her remarks by noting that Libya’s response to Hannibal’s arrest would be in line with the proverb of “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth”, prompting speculation in the media that the GOL would retaliate against SWITZERLAND. Noting that it would have been better had she not come, von Muralt sharply criticized Aisha’s statement as “highly inaccurate” and said her attempts at mediation hurt, rather than helped, efforts to quietly resolve the incident. Eventually, Hannibal and his wife were released on bail – 200,000 Euros for Hannibal; 300,000 Euros for his wife, who is accused of perpetrating most of the alleged physical abuse – and flew from Geneva to Tripoli late on July 17 on a private aircraft, together with Aisha, six of the bodyguard cohort and various other assistants. The two bodyguards who assaulted Swiss officers and carried the unregistered handguns remain in detention in Geneva.

GOL COUNTER ATTACKS ON THE DIPLOMATIC FRONT …

6. (C) Noting that he had been officially convoked by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on five different occasions since July 15, von Muralt stressed that GOL officials were more focused on mitigating damage to the al-Qadhafi family reputation and saving face than on the fact that Hannibal’s behavior had been egregious. Von Muralt’s primary MFA interlocutors have been the MFA U/S-equivalent for European Affairs, Abdulati Obeidi, and the MFA Secretary for Adminstrative Affairs, Muhammad Kaim. MFA officials had presented to von Muralt a series of demarches and diplomatic notes accusing the Swiss government of having used excessive force (particularly with respect to detaining Hannibal’s wife), of having violated Hannibal’s diplomatic immunity, of having violated diplomatic protocol by not granting Libyan diplomats immediate consular access to him, and of deliberately seeking to embarrass Libya because of its “well-known” dislike of Arabs.

7. (C) Von Muralt noted that Swiss officers had only drawn their weapons because they were physically assaulted by armed bodyguards, that Hannibal was not/not entitled to diplomatic immunity (he entered SWITZERLAND on a diplomatic passport but was not accredited to the Swiss Government as a diplomat), that Libyan diplomats were not entitled to immediate consular access because he was not an accredited diplomat, and that SWITZERLAND had a proud history of racial tolerance and diversity (one in five residents is a foreigner). (Note: Libyan MFA officials have insisted that Article 36 of the Vienna Conventions provides for immediate consular access; von Muralt said SWITZERLAND’s interpretation, based on international practice, was to provide access within four to six days. End note.) …

AND ATTACKS SWISS INTERESTS

8. (C) The GOL also moved swiftly to exact reprisals against Swiss interests in Libya. The Libyan People’s Bureau (embassy-equivalent) in Bern ceased issuing visas to all Swiss travelers on July 17. GOL officials reduced Swiss Air’s connections to Tripoli from three flights per week to one and Libya’s Air Afriqiyah reduced its flights to Geneva from three flights per week to one. Swiss companies in Libya have been summoned for inspections of their registration documents and, in the case of Swiss nationals, checks of their residency permits. Two Swiss companies, ABB and Stukey Co., have been closed since July 15 for alleged irregularities in their registration papers and the Swiss national country representative for ABB has been in detention since July 19 on charges that his residency papers TRIPOLI 00000592 003.2 OF 003 were not in order. Von Muralt estimated that another 20 Swiss companies were at risk of being shuttered unless the diplomatic impasse is resolved quickly. The GOL has provided a small detachment of National Police to guard the Swiss Embassy and Residence, and has suggested to von Muralt that angry Libyans, upset by Swiss treatment of Hannibal, could stage popular demonstrations against the Swiss mission.

HIGH-LEVEL NEGOTIATIONS UNDERWAY, BUT OUTCOME UNCLEAR

9. (C) Emphasizing that the Swiss government is keen to put the relationship back on an even keel, von Muralt nonetheless stressed that SWITZERLAND”really doesn’t need Libya for anything”. There are 41 registered Swiss nationals in Libya, of whom 25 are dual Libyan-Swiss nationals. He suggested that while the Swiss Foreign Ministry was working to resolve the issue, there were limits to how much they were willing to concede. Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey spoke by telephone with Libyan Foreign Minister Abdulrahman Shalgham on July 22. Von Muralt said Shalgham insisted that SWITZERLAND had violated the Vienna Conventions by not granting immediate consular access, but backed away from accusations by Aisha al-Qadhafi and other MFA officials that Swiss police had used undue force and that Swiss officials deliberately sought to embarrass Libya.

10. (C) A senior Swiss delegation is scheduled to travel to Tripoli on July 23 for talks to “smooth things over”; however, von Muralt noted that Hannibal and his wife are out on bail and are currently required to return to Geneva to stand trial. Should they fail to appear, the Swiss judge could issue an Interpol arrest warrant. If that were to happen, von Muralt speculated that the GOL would take “drastic measures” and the Swiss Embassy could be shuttered. Von Muralt suggested to MFA official Abdulati Obeidi on July 20 that the GOL retain good legal counsel and pursue an out-of-court settlement with the Tunisian and Moroccan who pressed the charges, which could obviate the need for Hannibal and his wife to appear before a court in Geneva. The Swiss are making contingency plans to quickly close their mission should that become necessary. The embassy has continued to operate normally since Hannibal’s arrest, to include issuing visas, but may cease visa issuance if Libya does not quickly resume issuing visas to Swiss citizens. Von Muralt noted that the Swiss Embassy issues some 9,000 visas each year to Libyans.

11. (C) Comment: The GOL’s reflexive efforts to attack Swiss commercial interests and cease issuing visas to Swiss citizens underscore the extent to which the regime treats business as an extension of politics and the sensitivity of anything to do with the al-Qadhafi family. Von Muralt dismissed the possibility that his mission would be threatened by angry Libyans. Noting that SWITZERLAND is a large source of second-hand vehicles (a sizeable market in Libya) and a popular venue for medical care and banking for well-heeled Libyans, he said several non-official Libyans had privately expressed the wish that the Swiss had kept Hannibal, who is unpopular here, in custody. He also noted that the single remaining Swiss Air and Air Afriqiyah flights were booked with Libyan elites, who would not view favorably a complete cessation of direct air connections to Geneva. Hannibal’s repeated falls from grace highlight the broad gulf between average Libyans, who view the al-Qadhafi family as unsophisticated upstarts from a historically inconsequential part of the country (Sirte) who routinely embarrass Libya, and senior regime officials, who view the state as an extension of the al-Qadhafi family empire. The Swedish ambassador, who is based in Tunis but accredited to Libya, told CDA on July 21 that the “deep-seated, visceral” hatred many Libyans feel for the al-Qadhafi family has grown in recent years to the point that he does not expect that one of al-Qadhafi’s children will be able to succeed Muammar al-Qadhafi. He was posted in Tripoli in 1986-1990, and said the popular perception of the ruling family has deteriorated considerably since then, in part because al-Qadhafi’s sons have comported themselves so poorly as they have come of age. End comment. GODFREY

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EUROPEANS ENGAGE GOL ON BOUFAYED HUMAN RIGHTS CASE

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011
ID 08TRIPOLI541
SUBJECT EUROPEANS ENGAGE GOL ON BOUFAYED HUMAN RIGHTS CASE
DATE 2008-07-08 16:04:00
CLASSIFICATION CONFIDENTIAL
ORIGIN Embassy Tripoli
TEXT C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TRIPOLI 000541

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 7/8/2018
TAGS: PHUM PGOV PREL FR LY SZ DA
SUBJECT: EUROPEANS ENGAGE GOL ON BOUFAYED HUMAN RIGHTS CASE

REF: (A) TRIPOLI 472, (B) TRIPOLI 332, C) TRIPOLI 515 TRIPOLI 00000541 001.2 OF 002 CLASSIFIED BY: John T. Godfrey, CDA, U.S. Embassy Tripoli, Dept of State. REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)

1. (C) Summary: European Union (EU) governments remain concerned about the on-going detention cases of Idriss Boufayed, Jamal al-Hajj, and nine co-defendants following the group’s June 10 conviction on charges related to their plans to stage a peaceful public demonstration in Tripoli (ref A). European missions are focused on securing humanitarian release for Boufayed, who is terminally ill with cancer, and obtaining consular access to al-Hajj, a Danish citizen; however, they do not/not intend to raise the cases of the other nine detainees. France, on behalf of the EU presidency, is keen to press the case through quiet diplomacy with the Qadhafi Development Foundation (QDF) and remains open to coordination with the U.S. End summary.

2. (C) French Ambassador Francois Gouyette chaired a meeting of EU ambassadors in Tripoli on June 17 to discuss a coordinated European response to the recent conviction and continued detention of Idriss Boufayed, Jamal al-Hajj, and nine other self-described regime critics. (Note: France represented the EU presidency in Libya on behalf of Slovenia, which does not have representation here, in the first half of 2008 and retains the presidency through the end of the year in its own right. End note.) The eleven individuals were convicted on June 10 of planning to foment a rebellion against the “people’s authority system” and of meeting with an official from a foreign government; sentences ranged from 6 to 25 years imprisonment. Ambassador Gouyette had unsuccessfully approached MFA U/S for European Affairs Abdulati Obeidi about the case in early June. EU ambassadors agreed on June 17 that they would not/not raise the case again with the MFA. EU diplomats in Tripoli report that the Europeans have two principal interests in the case: 1) securing humanitarian parole for Idriss Boufayed, who is currently undergoing treatment for advanced lung cancer in Sabratha General Hospital (ref B and previous), and; 2) obtaining consular access to Jamal al-Hajj, who holds Danish citizenship. EU missions do not/not plan to raise the case of the nine other convicted individuals who remain in detention.

3. (C) The French and Swiss Ambassadors reportedly maintain an active dialogue with Abdulsalem Salah, Director of the QDF’s Human Rights Committee and a key interlocutor on the Bulgarian medics case, on the Boufayed case. Swiss Ambassador Daniel von Muralt told the CDA on June 30 that he was “confident” Salah would be able to arrange Boufayed’s release on humanitarian grounds; however, he conceded European diplomats had not/not approached Saleh concerning the other ten detainees (including Jamal al-Hajj). Saleh reportedly promised to facilitate a three-way meeting between von Muralt, the QDF, and Boufayed’s attorney to discuss the case. Von Muralt said he plans to use the meeting with Boufayed’s lawyer to ask Boufayed if he wants SWITZERLAND to push the QDF to allow him to seek medical care abroad. Both the French and Swiss Embassies in Tripoli say they are open to coordination with the U.S. on any future approach to the Libyans on the Boufayed case.

4. (C) While EU Ambassadors plan to continue lobbying for Boufayed’s release through the QDF, the French Ambassador intends to push for consular access to Jamal al-Hajj through the MFA Department of Consular Affairs. French diplomats have noted that repeated requests for consular access by Denmark have been denied; however, they remain optimistic that a recent personnel change in the MFA’s consular office might prompt a reversal. Danish Honorary-Consul George Wallen told us his efforts to secure consular access, most recenlty in mid-June, had been flatly rejected by the GOL, which in its latest meeting with him justified its unwillingness to facilitate access to al-Hajj case to the re-publication in February 2008 of cartoons in Danish print media depicting the Prophet Muhammad. French Poloff Pierre-Antoine Molina privately conceded that the legal case behind the EU’s request for consular access was weak since al-Hajj also has Libyan citizenship – France would not/not provide consular access to a dual Libyan-French national in a reciprocal situation.

5. (C) Comment: Post does not share the Europeans’ optimism that the QDF will be able to facilitate the quick release of the ailing Idriss Boufayed, or that the MFA’s consular office will ultimately provide access to Jamal al-Hajj; however, there are few viable alternatives to the EU’s quiet diplomatic overtures. The QDF’s involvement in the case has so far been limited to facilitating Idriss Boufayed’s “release” from prison to a hospital for medical care on humanitarian grounds; however, in a striking parallel with the ongoing detention of human rights activist Fathi el-Jahmi (ref C and previous), opposition websites report that Boufayed remains under heavy guard at the Sabratha Hospital. While he has received family visits, he is not able to leave the hospital. By contrast with the el-Jahmi TRIPOLI 00000541 002.2 OF 002 case, in which European missions have expressed little interest, the EU’s focus on the Boufayed case is high. European missions have historically avoided engaging with the GOL on human rights issues – their willingess to pursue a collective approach in the Boufayed case is a potentially hopeful sign. Post will continue to closely follow the EU’s efforts on the Boufayed case; it is not clear that more direct U.S. engagement on this case would be helpful at this time. End comment. GODFREY

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SELF-DESCRIBED REGIME CRITIC IDRISS BOUFAYED RELEASED

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011
ID 08TRIPOLI819
SUBJECT SELF-DESCRIBED REGIME CRITIC IDRISS BOUFAYED RELEASED
DATE 2008-10-14 17:05:00
CLASSIFICATION CONFIDENTIAL
ORIGIN Embassy Tripoli
TEXT C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TRIPOLI 000819

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/14/2018
TAGS: PHUM PGOV PREL FR LY SZ DA
SUBJECT: SELF-DESCRIBED REGIME CRITIC IDRISS BOUFAYED RELEASED

REF: A. (A) TRIPOLI 332, B) TRIPOLI 472, C) TRIPOLI 592, D) TRIPOLI 541, E) TRIPOLI 158, F) TRIPOLI 159, G) TRIPOLI 160), H) TRIPOLI B. 161, I) TRIPOLI 165 TRIPOLI 00000819 001.2 OF 002 CLASSIFIED BY: John T. Godfrey, CDA, U.S. Embassy – Tripoli, Dept of State. REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)

1. (C) Summary: Regime critic Idriss Boufayed, who was sentenced to 25 years in prison in June and who is suffering from cancer, has been released from custody on humanitarian grounds and has returned home. He may seek to secure travel documents (seized at the time of his arrest) and permission to travel abroad for medical treatment. The Qadhafi Development Foundation (QDF) played a role in urging his release; the Human Rights Society of Libya (HRSL), which is affiliated with the QDF, is monitoring Boufayed’s case and has offered to help him secure travel documents and permission to travel. 10 other individuals convicted and sentenced in connection with Boufayed’s case remain in custody. EU missions are waiting for permission from Brussels to collectively demarche the Government of Libya (GOL) to request consular access to one of them, a dual Danish-Libyan national. The HRSL has petitioned the QDF to urge the GOL to release the 10 other individuals; QDF Chairman Saif al-Islam al-Qadhafi is currently reviewing the petition. While Boufayed’s release is a positive gesture, some Libyan interlocutors have noted that he was essentially let go to avoid criticism of the regime if he were to succumb to cancer while still in the GOL’s custody. End summary.

BOUFAYED RETURNS HOME

2. (C) Libyan opposition website Libya al-Mustaqbal reported October 8 that Libyan authorities allowed detained regime critic Dr. Idriss Boufayed to leave the Sabratha Hospital, where he had been held and undergone treatment for lung cancer since his transfer from prison earlier this year (ref A). xxxxxxxxxxxx, told us October 12 that he had spoken with members of Boufayed’s family, who confirmed that Boufayed had returned to the family’s home in Gharyan on October 8. xxxxxxxxxxxx said intervention by the Qadhafi Development Foundation (QDF), chaired by Saif al-Islam al-Qadhafi, son of Muammar al-Qadhafi, had helped facilitate Boufayed’s release on humanitarian grounds. Boufayed was convicted on June 10 of planning to foment a rebellion against the “people’s authority system” and meeting with an official from a foreign government, and was sentenced to 25 years in prison (details ref B).

MAY SEEK TO TRAVEL ABROAD FOR MEDICAL TREATMENT

3. (C) xxxxxxxxxxxx said Boufayed, whose medical condition was described by family members as “poor”, was considering whether to try to travel abroad for medical treatment. xxxxxxxxxxxx believed Boufayed was inclined to do so. A complication was that Boufayed’s passport and identity documents were confiscated at the time of his arrest in February 2007. xxxxxxxxxxxx said he offered the assistance of the HRSL in helping Boufayed obtain his passport and identity documents and permission to exit the country. Noting that Boufayed was very weak, xxxxxxxxxxxx lamented that he had not been granted a humanitarian parole sooner after his conviction in June to allow him to benefit from specialized medical treatment that could not be obtained in Libya. In remarks to the press on October 14, the QDF’s Human Rights Committee Director, Saleh Abdulsalam Saleh, gave media interviews in which he said the QDF would facilitate Boufayed’s travel to SWITZERLAND for cancer treatment; however, ongoing Swiss-Libyan contretemps related to the July arrest of Hannibal al-Qadhafi (ref C), son of Muammar al-Qadhafi, could hamper those efforts.

EU CONTEMPLATES FURTHER ACTION; HRSL URGES ACTION TO RELEASE OTHER PRISONERS

4. (C) French and British diplomats told us EU heads of mission had agreed to a joint demarche to the GOL requesting consular access to Jamal al-Hajj, a Danish-Libyan dual citizen who was among the individuals arrested along with Boufayed. EU officials in Brussels are currently reviewing the proposed joint demarche, which would call for consular access to Boufayed, information on the status of the appeal of his conviction and possibly urge his release. It is not expected that missions in Tripoli will receive a decision on the joint demarche by weeks’ end. As reported refs B and D, EU member missions previously demarched the GOL to urge Idriss Boufayed’s release and consular access to Jamal al-Hajj; however, they have not/not raised the cases of the other members of the group convicted in connection with the case. Separately, xxxxxxxxxxxx told us October 14 that his organization had submitted a petition to the QDF asking that the organization intervene to urge the GOL to release the other individuals convicted in connection with the case. xxxxxxxxxxxx argued in the petition that gross improprieties in authorities’ investigation of the case and the excessive TRIPOLI 00000819 002.2 OF 002 sentences justified a review of their case, if not an outright pardon. xxxxxxxxxxxx told CDA Saif al-Islam al-Qadhafi is currently considering the petition.

BACKGROUND

5. (C) Boufayed is a long-time critic of Libyan leader Muammar al-Qadhafi, and directed a small opposition group called the National Union for Reform during 16 years of exile in SWITZERLAND. He returned to Libya in September 2006 and was briefly detained in November and December 2006. 14 self-described dissidents and regime critics were arrested on/about February 16, 2007 on the eve of staging a peaceful public demonstration in Tripoli’s Green Square to protest Libyan authorities’ violent suppression of a demonstration in Benghazi a year earlier. The arrests came shortly after Idriss Boufayed and al-Mahdi Humaid met with an Emboff to discuss the planned demonstration (see refs E-G and H-I (NOTAL) for details on the arrest and the GOL’s reaction to Emboff’s meeting with dissidents). Eleven members of the group, including Boufayed, were convicted on June 10 of planning to foment a rebellion against the “people’s authority system” and of meeting with an official from a foreign government; sentences ranged from 6 to 25 years (see ref B for details on sentences). Juma’a Boufayed, brother of Idriss Boufayed, and Adel Humaid were released in late May and early June 2008, respectively. Abdulrahman al-Qutawi has not been seen in prison or at trial proceedings since he was arrested with Juma’a Boufayed in February 2007. Opposition websites have alleged that he died in police custody while being interrogated shortly after he was taken into custody.

6. (C) Comment: While Boufayed’s release is a positive gesture, some Libyan interlocutors have noted that he was essentially let go to avoid criticism of the regime if he were to succumb to cancer while still in the GOL’s custody. The xxxxxxxxxxxxstressed that six months elapsed between the QDF’s announcement that it had facilitated Boufayed’s transfer from prison in Tripoli to the Sabratha Hospital (60 km west of Tripoli) for treatment and his ultimate release to return home. End comment. GODFREY

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LIBYAN-SWISS CONTRETEMPS DRAGS ON

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011
ID 08TRIPOLI851
SUBJECT LIBYAN-SWISS CONTRETEMPS DRAGS ON
DATE 2008-10-27 13:01:00
CLASSIFICATION CONFIDENTIAL
ORIGIN Embassy Tripoli
TEXT C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TRIPOLI 000851

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/27/2018
TAGS: PREL PHUM EAIR ECON SZ LY
SUBJECT: LIBYAN-SWISS CONTRETEMPS DRAGS ON

REF: A) TRIPOLI 687, B) TRIPOLI 674, C) TRIPOLI 596, D) TRIPOLI 592 CLASSIFIED BY: Chris Stevens, CDA, Embassy Tripoli, Department of State. REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)

1. (C) Summary: Earlier predictions that the Swiss-Libyan contretemps prompted by the mid-July arrest of Hannibal al-Qadhafi in Geneva would soon end have not been fulfilled, according to the Swiss Ambassador to Tripoli. Although key Libyan demands have been met — charges against Hannibal have been dropped, a joint commission is looking into the incident and SWITZERLAND is prepared to make a formal public apology — Libyan officials now want Swiss police officers and officials involved in the incident to be punished, a line the Swiss government has so far refused to cross. Media reports that Libya had withdrawn USD 7 billion from Swiss banks and cut oil shipments to SWITZERLAND appear to have been a warning; Libyan MFA officials told the Swiss Ambassador that such actions could be taken unless the joint commission’s findings are to the GOL’s liking. For its part, SWITZERLAND has linked issuance of a humanitarian visa to the relative of a prominent regime official to obtaining an exit permit for a Swiss company representative who has been stranded since the conflict began in July. Swiss Air’s station manager in Tripoli also notified civil aviation authorities that Swiss Air would close its one remaining weekly flight unless the GOL issued her a one-year, multiple entry visa and restored the other two weekly flights operated by Swiss Air until mid-July. End summary.

2. (C) Reversing his earlier prediction (ref A) that the crisis prompted by the arrest in Geneva of Hannibal al-Qadhafi, son of Muammar al-Qadhafi, was all but resolved, Swiss Ambassador Daniel von Muralt told P/E Chief on October 21 that he was no longer optimistic that the contretemps would be resolved anytime soon. A Libyan-Swiss memorandum of understanding signed August 31 in Tripoli stipulated that SWITZERLAND: 1) drop the charges against Hannibal; 2) establish a joint commission of inquiry to investigate the incident; and 3) issue a formal public apology for the incident. As reported ref A, the Moroccan claimant in the case accepted compensation in exchange for agreeing not to pursue charges against Hannibal and his wife. Swiss authorities have cooperated with the joint investigation; the next meeting (the Swiss hope it proves to be the final one) is scheduled to take place in Geneva in early November.SWITZERLAND is also prepared to issue a formal apology (von Muralt said it has already been drafted); however, it does not plan to do so until Swiss authorities are convinced that Libya is prepared to accept the conclusions of the commission of inquiry, let the matter die and restore relations to the status quo ante.

3. (C) Von Muralt said it had become increasingly clear in the past six weeks that Libyan officials were effectively pursuing a fourth condition: punishment of the Swiss police officers and officials involved in detaining Hannibal and his wife. Libyan officials have been unhappy with the testimony of eyewitnesses and others interviewed by the joint commission, which had not substantiated allegations by the GOL that Swiss police and officials acted inappropriately in detaining Hannibal and his wife and subsequently facilitating consular access to them. Libya has insisted that the Swiss officers be punished and has blocked efforts to bring the joint commission’s work to a close and issue a report of its findings. Libyan members of the joint commission have instead insisted on calling more witnesses to try to bolster its claims of wrongdoing. Interviewing the additional witnesses delayed the commission’s report, which was to have been issued in early October.

4. (C) To the great consternation of the Swiss, the GOL publicly accused Swiss officials of delaying the investigation. Hotly rejecting the idea that Swiss authorities had been anything but cooperative and emphasizing Bern’s keen desire to resolve the issue amicably, von Muralt noted that Swiss authorities recently agreed to make three police officers involved in the arrest available for questioning (reversing an earlier decision) “as a gesture of good faith”. He said there was “no chance” that the officers would be punished, stressing that their handling of the arrest had been “professional and correct”. Swiss authorities were keen to demonstrate that they had done all they could to facilitate the joint commission’s work to enable issuance of a mutually-agreed report. Swiss officials are concerned that Swiss and Libyan joint commission members could fail to agree on language for their final report, potentially constituting another stumbling block in the effort to mend frayed bilateral ties.

5. (C) Citing senior Libyan officials, including Central Bank TRIPOLI 00000851 002 OF 002 Governor Farhat Bengadara, media reports on October 8 said Libya had withdrawn some 7 billion USD in deposits from Swiss banks and stopped deliveries of Libyan oil to SWITZERLAND to “protest poor treatment of Libyan diplomats and businessmen”. Von Muralt said Swiss authorities had received no confirmation that either had occurred. He shared with us a Libyan note verbale dated October 10 that: 1) reiterated claims that Swiss authorities violated diplomatic protocol in arresting Hannibal; 2) conceded that Libya had not withdrawn funds from Swiss banks or terminated oil shipments to SWITZERLAND, but suggested it could; and, 3) called on Swiss authorities, specifically authorities of the Geneva canton, to cooperate so the joint commission could conclude its work as soon as possible. Separately, von Muralt obtained copies of notices from the office of Libyan Prime Minister-equivalent al-Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi to Libyan government agencies forbidding them from executing existing contracts or finalizing new ones with Swiss companies.

6. (C) In addition, von Muralt was convoked by MFA Secretary for European Affairs Abdulati Obeidi on October 11 and told that SWITZERLAND should regard media reports that Libya had withdrawn its Swiss deposits and cut oil shipments as a sign of next steps the GOL would take unless the results of the joint commission’s work were to the GOL’s satisfaction. Von Muralt interpreted Obeidi’s message as “a baldfaced attempt” to blackmail SWITZERLAND into punishing police officers involved in the incident. Citing unnamed contacts close to the al-Qadhafi family, he claimed that the GOL’s motivation for doing so was to further discredit the Swiss and deflect attention from Hannibal’s egregious behavior. Stressing the al-Qadhafi clan’s public relations problem, von Muralt noted that a number of Libyans had approached him to express “quiet support” for SWITZERLAND and “embarrassment” about Hannibal’s behavior.

7. (C) Von Muralt shared that SWITZERLAND responded to Obeidi’s October 11 demarche by linking issuance of a visa to the daughter of a prominent regime official, who needs specialized cancer care in SWITZERLAND, to obtaining an exit permit for a representative of a Swiss company who is currently living at the Swiss Embassy. The Swiss individual was detained and his travel documents confiscated immediately after Hannibal’s arrest in mid-July. Von Muralt contacted Bashir Saleh, Muammar al-Qadhafi’s chief-of-staff-equivalent, a week ago to make it clear that no visa would be forthcoming unless the Swiss businessman was able to leave Libya; he has received no response. In addition, Swiss Air’s station manager in Tripoli sent a formal notice to Libya’s Civil Aviation authorities in early October advising that Swiss Air would close its one remaining flight per week to/from SWITZERLAND at the end of October unless the GOL issued her a one-year, multiple entry visa and restored the other two weekly flights operated by Swiss Air until mid-July.

8. (C) Comment: Von Muralt characterized the ongoing contretemps as “an education” for Swiss leaders in Bern, who have been surprised that their willingness to compromise has so far failed to secure agreement by the GOL to resolve the incident and move on. Drawing a parallel to the case of the Bulgarian medics, he ascribed the GOL’s tactics to a desire to deny any culpability, blame foreign powers for domestic shortcomings (in this case, the behavior of one of the Leader’s sons), and aggressively counter-attack in the media to secure maximum concessions. According to von Muralt, Muammar al-Qadhafi and senior regime figures are determined that Swiss officials be punished to mitigate damage caused by Hannibal’s misbehavior in Europe to the family’s already sullied reputation in Libya. End comment. STEVENS

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SWISS FOREIGN MINISTER MAY VISIT TRIPOLI IN “LAST GASP”

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011
ID 08TRIPOLI926
SUBJECT SWISS FOREIGN MINISTER MAY VISIT TRIPOLI IN “LAST GASP”
DATE 2008-12-02 17:05:00
CLASSIFICATION CONFIDENTIAL
ORIGIN Embassy Tripoli
TEXT C O N F I D E N T I A L TRIPOLI 000926

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR NEA/MAG

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/2/2018
TAGS: PREL PHUM ECON EAIR SZ LY
SUBJECT: SWISS FOREIGN MINISTER MAY VISIT TRIPOLI IN “LAST GASP”
EFFORT TO MEND FRAYED BILATERAL TIES

REF: TRIPOLI 851 CLASSIFIED BY: Chris Stevens, CDA, Embassy Tripoli, Department of State. REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)

¶1. (C) Swiss Consul Francois Schmidt told P/E Chief on December 2 that Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey intends to travel to Tripoli on December 5 for talks with as-yet undetermined Government of Libya interlocutors in what he described as “a last gasp” effort to resolve the lingering Libyan-Swiss contretemps occasioned by the arrest in Geneva of Hannibal al-Qadhafi, son of Muammar al-Qadhafi, in July. (Note: Schmidt asked that we keep news of the possible visit close-hold as it had not yet been finalized. End note.) The Swiss Embassy submitted a diplomatic note to the Libyan MFA on December 1 requesting meetings for Calmy-Rey with Muammar al-Qadhafi and a number of lesser officials, including Foreign Minister-equivalent Abdulrahman Shalgham and National Security Advisor Muatassim al-Qadhafi. Schmidt said Swiss Ambassador to Tripoli Daniel von Muralt had advised against the trip, cautioning Calmy-Rey that she could be “badly humiliated” if she decided to come. Admitting that there was “no agreed strategy, message or approach” behind the proposed visit, Schmidt said the Swiss Federal Government had nonetheless directed her to make the trip in the hope that it could rejuvenate Libyan-Swiss talks that he characterized as “hopelessly stalled”.

¶2. (C) Schmidt said the situation had worsened since Libyan and Swiss members of a joint commission of inquiry exchanged copies of their respective drafts of a final report on November 14. The idea was that they would agree on language for a report that would be jointly issued to the public, which would detail the events attendant to Hannibal’s arrest and mutually-agreed remedies. Ambassador von Muralt stressed in an earlier meeting with us (reftel) that the joint commission’s report would likely be the next stumbling block in the effort to mend frayed ties. Schmidt confirmed that such had come to pass, saying the two reports were “miles apart” in terms of their interpretations of events and conclusions. Schmidt highlighted the fact that Libyan members had come away with completely different understandings of the testimony of key witnesses, and suggested that they had shaded their intepretations to bolster the key Libyan demand that the arresting police officers be punished.

¶3. (C) Lamenting that the GOL had repeatedly shifted the goalposts in terms of its demands for redress, Schmidt said GOL officials’ latest demands were that the officers be “banished” from Geneva to other cantonments and that the Swiss prosecutor be investigated for legal malpractice. They had also recently stipulated that a public apology to be issued by the Swiss government as part of a grand bargain admit that Swiss officials had conspired to “deliberately entrap” Hannibal al-Qadhafi. He attributed most of the creeping demands to the personal involvement of Aisha al-Qadhafi and Hannibal al-Qadhafi in the work of the Libyan committee tasked with resolving the issue. In a positive step, all but two of SWITZERLAND’s citizens remaining in Libya had obtained exit visas; the two remaining are under indictment for alleged crimes in cases brought right after Hannibal’s arrest. Swiss Air’s station manager, who had been prohibited for over a month from leaving, obtained a six month, multiple-entry visa and a one-year residency permit after Swiss officials linked her case to that of the gravely ill daughter of a senior regime official, whom the family wanted to take to SWITZERLAND for specialized treatment. In addition, Swiss Air, which had threatened to cease operating its one remaining Zurich-Tripoli route (landing permits for two of its three weekly flights were cancelled by the GOL after Hannibal’s arrest), has decided to continue flying until year’s end and will assess then whether to shutter its operations.

¶4. (C) Comment: Other EU missions have quietly questioned the Swiss approach to the ongoing kerfuffle, particularly Bern’s decision to not/not solicit support from Brussels for a joint EU response to the GOL’s pressure tactics. The fact that the reports of the Libyan and Swiss members of the joint commission of inquiry are so divergent with respect to what happened and who is at fault does not augur well. While high-level shuttle diplomacy with the GOL has worked in some cases in the past (witness French efforts with respect to the Bulgarian nurses), the consensus among the diplomatic corps here is that Tripoli believes it has the upper hand and will not concede much to the Swiss. The dispute highlights the extent to which the GOL remains a family enterprise, willing to go to extreme lengths over what amounts to a matter of face involving the abhorrent behavior of Hannibal al-Qadhafi. End comment.
STEVENS

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Cable 05LIMA3609

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011
ID 05LIMA3609
SUBJECT
DATE 2005-08-19 18:06:00
CLASSIFICATION UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
ORIGIN Embassy Lima
TEXT Cable dated:2005-08-17T21:24:00]C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 LIMA 003571SIPDISEB FOR A/S WAYNE; WHA FOR MONSERRATE; INL FOR AGUILERAE.O. 12958: DECL: 08/16/2015TAGS: EMIN ETRD SNAR PTER ECON EINV PGOV PE

Classified By: Ambassador J. Curtis Struble. Reason: 1.4 (b,d)

¶1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Violent protests against British firm Majaz,s exploration for copper near the Ecuador border have resulted in three deaths and several kidnappings. An unusual combination of anti-mining NGOs, the Catholic Church, leftist groups and narcotraffickers have marshaled protesters from the surrounding provincesXXXXXXXXXXXX The Mission continues its work with other Embassies and mining investors to promote conflict resolution. END SUMMARY.

¶2. (U) Sporadic protests began a year ago in the Minera Majaz exploration zone along the Rio Blanco, on the Ecuadorian border in northern Piura. XXXXXXXXXXXX On 7/28 protesters began road blockages and confrontations with the Peruvian National Police (PNP). The GOP sent a negotiating team to the zone to lower tensions, but Vice Minister of Mines (MEM) Romulo Mucho was injured by a protester as he left a negotiating session in Cajamarca. Despite claims that police killed many protesters, only one death (gunshot from an unknown assailant) was confirmed during demonstrations. The PNP reported also that two locals died in their home when their explosive device detonated.

¶3. (SBU) On 8/6 Ronderos kidnapped two Majaz employees and took them to villages where they were beaten. The two were released, but on 8/14 ronderos kidnapped ten other employees, releasing them only after the employees signed agreements not to work for Majaz. Ronderos have announced plans for more demonstrations on 8/18.

¶4. (C) Conversations between Mission officers, MEM VM Mucho, Majaz executives, NGO representatives and PNP officials yielded a common theme that the protesters have no negotiable complaints, but rather want to keep outsiders away. The forces overtly arrayed against Majaz are the local ronderos, mayors, several Catholic priests and some NGOs. Working behind the scene are a combination of the Peruvian Communist Party/Patria Roja, national teachers, union SUTEP and perhaps opium poppy traffickers.

¶5. (SBU) The Peruvian National Police have said publicly that they believe opium traffickers have also played a role in stoking the violence — an assertion the police have amplified in private conversations with Emboffs. Police report that they have destroyed over 70,000 opium poppy plants in Northern Peru since June 2005. Company representatives have also asserted that the Majaz exploration site lies along a foot track used by couriers who convey opium latex to Ecuador.

¶6. (C) Comment: This area of northern Peru is in fact a priority target of our efforts to collect intelligence on poppy cultivation and opium trafficking. We are working with both the police and company representatives to further develop the information they have. So far, however, the information is general. There have been past instances when non-U.S. mining companies have claimed unconvincingly that narco-traffickers were behind opposition to their operations in an effort to enlist our assistance. End Comment.

¶7. (C) NGO XXXXXXXXXXXX has becomeXXXXXXXXXXXX frustrated XXXXXXXXXXXX in the Majaz community negotiations. XXXXXXXXXXXX told us that Majaz and MEM VM Mucho were making reasonable efforts to mediate; here, XXXXXXXXXXXX said, the ronderos refused to negotiate and simply wanted Majaz to leave. XXXXXXXXXXXX noted that other mediating NGOs XXXXXXXXXXXX were experiencing the same frustration with the ronderos.

¶8. (U) Minera Majaz is the Peruvian subsidiary of British firm Monterrico Metals. Majaz has spent $20 million exploring for copper for over a year, building roads and providing services and employment to area residents. Exploratory drilling has finished; surveying of a planned copper concentrate pipeline (the last step for Majaz,s feasibility study) ceased during protests but resumed on 8/11. Militants still deny access to most of the pipeline route. The planned $800 million investment in a deposit of 1.3 billion metric tons (MT) of copper ore could produce 220,000 MT of copper concentrate and 500 MT of molybdenum per year.

¶9. (U) Embassy Lima has recently stepped up efforts to improve coordination with the embassies of Canada, Great Britain, Australia, SWITZERLAND and South Africa as well as with major foreign mining investors with an eye to reducing anti-mining violence (Septel/Reftels).

¶10. (C) Comment: The anti-mining forces in action in Majaz represent a strange group of bedfellows indeed — the Catholic church, violent radical leftists, NGOs, ronderos and perhaps narcotraffickers. These organizations are competing for a leadership role but in some cases also cooperate. The extent to which the church is tied into the ronderos and radical left is both controversial and still open to question. Unlike recent conflicts in Southern Peru (e.g., Tintaya) the protests in Majaz are not aimed at forcing a redistribution of royalties or more generous economic support from a mine. Northern Peru has a reputation for being more anti-mining than the South, where the industry is better developed and more of the local populations see benefits from the activity. The objective of protesters in Majaz is to kill the project while it is in the exploration phase — before, presumably, a pro-mine constituency can develop in the area. STRUBLE

HEADER This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

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RELEASED REGIME CRITIC IDRISS BOUFAYED TO TRAVEL TO SWITZERLAND FOR MEDICAL TREATMENT

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011
ID 08TRIPOLI925
SUBJECT RELEASED REGIME CRITIC IDRISS BOUFAYED TO TRAVEL TO SWITZERLAND FOR MEDICAL TREATMENT REF: A) TRIPOLI 472, B) TRIPOLI 819, C) NEA/MAG OI 12/01/2008
DATE 2008-12-02 17:05:00
CLASSIFICATION CONFIDENTIAL
ORIGIN Embassy Tripoli
TEXT C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TRIPOLI 000925

SIPDIS

NSC FOR YERGER, DEPT FOR DRL/NESCA (JOHNSTONE, KWIRAM) AND
NEA/MAG (JOHNSON, NARDI)

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/2/2018
TAGS: PHUM PREL PGOV KPAO LY
SUBJECT: RELEASED REGIME CRITIC IDRISS BOUFAYED TO TRAVEL TO SWITZERLAND FOR MEDICAL TREATMENT REF: A) TRIPOLI 472, B) TRIPOLI 819, C) NEA/MAG OI 12/01/2008

CLASSIFIED BY: Chris Stevens, CDA, Embassy Tripoli, Department of State. REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)

¶1. (C) Summary: Self-described regime critic Dr. Idriss Boufayed has decided to travel to SWITZERLAND for specialized medical treatment for his lung cancer, a trip he had not undertaken sooner after his release in October because he was weak from chemotherapy. Boufayed has obtained his passport and a Swiss visa and agreed to accept financial assistance from the Qadhafi Development Foundation (QDF), which has agreed to underwrite his travel, lodging and treatment (although he has not yet received the funds). He is scheduled to depart Libya on/about December 6. Boufayed’s brother, who intended to accompany him, has been denied permission to travel; Boufayed believes his family are being kept in Libya as insurance against his speaking out about his trial or detention. The QDF has also indicated that most of the remaining ten members of Boufayed’s group, who were arrested in February 2007 on the eve of a planned peaceful demonstration in Tripoli’s Martyr’s Square, may be released from prison in the coming week. End summary.

BOUFAYED TO TRAVEL TO SWITZERLAND FOR TREATMENT

¶2. (C) xxxxxxxxxxxx gave P/E Chief an update on the case of self-described regime critic Dr. Idriss Boufayed on December 2. (Note: Boufayed was sentenced to 25 years of imprisonment earlier this year in connection with a planned peaceful demonstration in Tripoli’s Martyr’s Square (ref A); as reported ref B, he was released on humanitarian grounds – he suffers from advanced lung cancer – on October 8. End note.) xxxxxxxxxxxx visited Boufayed on November 28 at the latter’s family home in Gharyan, some 120 kilometers from Tripoli. xxxxxxxxxxxx said Boufayed:
1) had decided to travel to SWITZERLAND for specialized medical treatment for his lung cancer;
2) had obtained his passport (which was confiscated at the time of his arrest in February 2007) from the quasi-governmental Qadhafi Development Foundation (QDF), which had helped facilitate his release from detention, and;
3) planned to depart on December 6 for Geneva. xxxxxxxxxxxx said the QDF had decided to underwrite Boufayed’s travel, lodging and treatment, and that Boufayed had agreed to accept the assistance. (Note: In an earlier meeting, xxxxxxxxxxxx told us Boufayed had not yet decided whether to accept the QDF’s financial assistance, as doing so could be construed as tacit acceptance of the regime’s legitimacy. End note.) Addressing recent reports on opposition websites that the GOL had delayed permitting Boufayed to travel for treatment, xxxxxxxxxxxx called Juma’a Boufayed (Idriss’ brother) and handed the phone to P/E Chief. (Note: Juma’a Boufayed was arrested with other members of the group and detained for 14 months before released; he was not convicted or sentenced. End note.) Juma’a dismissed the reports, explaining that Idriss Boufayed had elected not to travel sooner after his release because had been undergoing chemotherapy and was too weak to travel or undergo further invasive cancer therapy.

¶3. (C) Confirming reports in ref C, Swiss Consul Francois Schmidt told us Boufayed obtained a Swiss visa on December 2. Boufayed also has a Swiss residency permit (scheduled to expire on December 19), which he intends to renew during his upcoming visit. Schmidt said Boufayed was coughing and appeared drawn at his visa interview, a condition Boufayed attributed to the chemotherapy regimen. Boufayed told Schmidt the QDF had “promised” to pay for his travel, lodging and medical treatment, although he had not received funds to date and did not expect to before he departed on December 6. Schmidt said Boufayed suggested in his interview that the QDF hoped to induce Boufayed to refrain from speaking publicly about his trial or detention by offering to underwrite his medical travel. Schmidt noted that as a legal resident, Boufayed was entitled to seek medical care in SWITZERLAND and did not have to demonstrate financial means in the way that a normal visa applicant would. Boufayed told Schmidt he had not decided which medical facility he would obtain treatment at, but said he planned to stay with friends in the Geneva area.

FAMILY TO REMAIN IN LIBYA AS INSURANCE

¶4. (C) Separately, xxxxxxxxxxxx told us in a telephone call that the GOL had decided not to permit Juma’a Boufayed to accompany his TRIPOLI 00000925 002 OF 002 ailing brother, which was the original plan. It is not clear who will accompany Idriss Boufayed. xxxxxxxxxxxx suggested that another member of the family would; however, Schmidt told us he was not aware that any other Boufayed family members had Swiss visas. He added that Idriss Boufayed had responded to the question as to who would travel with him by noting that his family members would remain in Libya “as insurance” (against his talking). Boufayed suggested that he did not intend to speak out during his travel MOST OF BOUFAYED GROUP REMAINING IN PRISON MAY BE RELEASED SOON

¶5. (C) Citing a conversation on December 1 with QDF Human Rights Director Saleh Abdusalam Saleh, xxxxxxxxxxxx said it was expected that all but one or two of the 10 members of the Boufayed group remaining in prison were expected to be released in the coming week. (Note: As reported ref A, Idriss Boufayed and 10 other members of a group of self-described regime critics were convicted on June 10 of planning to foment rebellion against “the people’s authority system”. Boufayed received a sentence of 25 years; sentences for the other 10 ranged from six to 15 years. End note.) xxxxxxxxxxxx said it had not yet been determined whether they would be pardoned of their crimes or simply released on humanitarian grounds. He speculated that members of the group kept in detention would likely be those who refused to sign statements agreeing to refrain from speaking publicly about their trials or detention, a common condition of release for political prisoners.

¶6. (C) Comment: The news that the QDF has helped Boufayed obtain a passport and stands ready to facilitate and perhaps underwrite his medical treatment abroad is a welcome development, as are reports that the members of the group remaining in prison may soon be released. Post does not recommend a proactive media note, but suggests that any press guidance in connection with Boufayed’s travel to SWITZERLAND:
1) welcome the news as a positive development;
2) suggest that it would be appropriate if members of the Boufayed group who remain in prison were released (if such has not already occurred), and;
3) encourage the GOL to consider parallel measures for detained human rights activist Fathi el-Jahmi, who remains in detention at the Tripoli Medical Center. End comment.
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http://213.251.145.96/cable/2008/12/08TRIPOLI925.html

STAFFDEL GROVE EXPLORES FOREIGN ASSISTANCE OPPORTUNITIES AND CONSTRAINTS

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011
ID 10TRIPOLI74
SUBJECT STAFFDEL GROVE EXPLORES FOREIGN ASSISTANCE OPPORTUNITIES AND CONSTRAINTS
DATE 2010-01-26 14:02:00
CLASSIFICATION CONFIDENTIAL
ORIGIN Embassy Tripoli
TEXT C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TRIPOLI 000074

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR NEA/MAG, H E.O. 12958: DECL: 1/26/2020 TAGS: OREP PREL PGOV PHUM LY

SUBJECT: STAFFDEL GROVE EXPLORES FOREIGN ASSISTANCE OPPORTUNITIES AND CONSTRAINTS

CLASSIFIED BY: Gene A. Cretz, Ambassador, US Embassy Tripoli, Department of State. REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)

1.(C) Summary: The Executive Director of the Qadhafi Development Foundation (QDF), Yusuf Sawani, told STAFFDEL Grove that the Foundation served as an “umbrella society” for Libya’s developing NGO community pushing for humanitarian development, national reconciliation for past human rights violations, and political reforms that enshrined individual rights. The Foundation is registered in SWITZERLAND, and therefore subject to annual, independent review by a Swiss auditor and has an annual operating budget of approximately $3.25 million. While Saif al-Islam al-Qadhafi serves as the Foundation’s chair, he receives no remuneration and a Board comprised of both Libyan and foreign — including American — representatives guide its policy. Sawani told the STAFFDEL that the QDF had served as the facilitator for various international organizations operating in Libya, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, and that the Foundation actively promoted the founding of additional Libyan NGOs. In a subsequent lunch with international organizations and major donors, the STAFFDEL was encouraged to “make do with [the organizations] we have in Libya”. Noting that would-be civil society leaders were, under the current political reality, able to function only under the QDF banner, the UK Ambassador counseled that the U.S. “should not be frightened by the name Qadhafi” but instead seek opportunities that benefited both Libyan and American interests to build trust and a foundation for political and economic change. End Summary.

QDF: A THINK TANK AND ENGINE FOR DEVELOPMENT

2.(C) In a December 8 meeting with the Ambassador and Paul Grove of the Senate Appropriations – Foreign Operations Subcommittee, Qadhafi International Charity and Development Foundation (QDF) Executive Director Yusuf Sawani described the QDF’s mission as “humanitarian diplomacy” and applying pressure on the Libyan government to implement economic and political reforms. Sawani characterized the Foundation as operating as an “umbrella society” that enables the work of five independent organizations (list them here). Saif al-Islam founded the first of these organizations in 1999 to discourage the use of drugs among Libyan youth and formally established the QDF in Geneva in 2003. Still a registered Swiss NGO, the QDF is audited on an annual basis by Swiss independent auditors and is subject to Swiss law. Sawani reported that the Foundation’s annual operational budget remains near 4 million Libyan dinar ($3.25 million) and that Saif al-Islam, the QDF’s chairman, receives no remuneration from its activities. According to Sawani, Saif al-Islam also pays for his official travel on QDF-related business with his own personal funds. Sawani confided that should Saif al-Islam take on the official government role as General Coordinator of the Social Committees to which he has been named, he will be required to resign his position as QDF’s chairman.

3.(C) Describing the QDF’s operations as a series of partnerships and pilot initiatives to foster the creation of NGOs and facilitate the work of international NGOs in Libya, Sawani said that some of those partnerships had faced serious resistance from government officials. Most recently, the QDF had facilitated Human Rights Watch’s (HRW) research studies in Libya in early 2009 and the December launching of HRW’s Libya report from Tripoli. The QDF concurrently released its own human rights report that recounted human rights violations, corruption, lack of transparency, and acts of impunity by security officials. Admitting that the QDF’s report was a “pre-emptive strike” intending to take air out of Libyan officials’ arguments that the HRW report was designed to undermine the regime, Sawani said that Saif al-Islam considered it to be an important piece of the South African-style national reconciliation he sees as necessary for Libya to move forward on political reforms. Saif’s frustration with the pace and scope of political reforms led directly to his August 2008 decision to withdraw from politics, according to Sawani.

4.(C) In addition to working closely with HRW, Sawani noted that the QDF had close partnerships with various international organizations including Amnesty International, the Arab Alliance for Human Rights, UNICEF, the World Health Organization, the International Organization for Migration, the International Committee for the Red Cross, and UNESCO, among others. While the independent constituent societies can and do have their own relationships with these organizations, Sawani said that the QDF’s status both domestically and internationally often made initial interaction through the Foundation more palatable for Libyan authorities. He cited the Human Rights Society of Libya’s five-year project with the UK-based Law Society to prevent torture and promote human rights in Libyan detention centers as an example of a relationship forged with the QDF’s assistance that had since devolved entirely to the subsidiary TRIPOLI 00000074 002 OF 002 group — a model that the QDF seeks to continue in order to build a more effective and engaged civil society.

5.(C) Codifying political reform and increased space for dissent were top recommendations in HRW’s December 2009 report, and Sawani reported that both remain top priorities for the QDF. Its premier initiative, according to Sawani, is a five-year project to draft and implement a new constitution. The drafting committee, like the QDF’s own board, consists of both Libyans and foreigners — including several Americans. The QDF is also studying changes to Libya’s penal code and, in a consultative capacity, the QDF is promoting legislation currently under review by Libya’s General People’s Congress that would allow the legal formation of NGOs and other associations. Sawani lamented that the Foundation had a mixed record of helping establish independent NGOs in Libya, noting that the QDF-assisted Center for Democracy and the Libyan Justice Society had its licenses revoked within 96 hours of formation. Nonetheless, Sawani judged that the QDF would continue to play an important role as a “think tank” and civil society incubator for the foreseeable future.

INTERNATIONAL PARTERS: WORK IN LIBYA WITH THE TOOLS AVAILABLE

6.(C) In a lunch with representatives from the UN, IOM, European Commission, and UK Embassy, the consensus opinion was that Libya required extensive engagement to be brought up to international standards on development and good governance but lacked the necessary expertise and decision makers to implement those programs. The British Ambassador told Grove, “We need to work with what we have in Libya, and you shouldn’t be frightened by the name Qadhafi. It goes with the territory.” The UN Resident Coordinator said that even his organization was limited in its reach due to Libya’s boycott of UNESCO. (Note: The boycott is due to Libyan sensitivities with UNESCO’s Bulgarian leadership. Libya continues to protest Bulgaria’s presidential welcome of five Bulgarian nurses, who had been sentenced to death in Libya, on return to Sofia after over seven years in prison. End Note).

7.(C) UK Poloff assessed that the QDF stood out as an organization comprised of young, energetic Libyans that would go on to become civil society leaders as political space opens. All agreed that it was important for any engagement with the Libyan government to find a high-level champion for the project — one who could make the case for implementation, especially within a system run by regime hardliners that are resistant to change. Only through steadily building both trust and capacity could Libyan organizations effectively participate in international cooperation without using groups like the QDF as an intermediary. The British Ambassador opined that “it’s our job to deliver what [Libya] can absorb, which means starting engagement on their terms.” The UN representative agreed, noting that Libya remained at “stage zero” on some elements of development and that basic support for programs designed to teach young, civic-minded Libyans English language and computer skills would pay dividends as Libya continues to open politically. CRETZ

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LIBYA MAKES GOOD ON THREAT TO DECLARE SCHENGEN VISA WAR

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011
ID 10TRIPOLI134
SUBJECT LIBYA MAKES GOOD ON THREAT TO DECLARE SCHENGEN VISA WAR REF: TRIPOLI 112 TRIPOLI 00000134 001.2 OF 003 CLASSIFIED BY: Gene A. Cretz, Ambassador, U.S. Embassy Tripoli, Department of State. REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)
DATE 2010-02-16 16:04:00
CLASSIFICATION CONFIDENTIAL
ORIGIN Embassy Tripoli
TEXT C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 TRIPOLI 000134

SIPDIS

STATE FOR NEA/FO, NEA/MAG AND EUR/ERA; NSC FOR S. AGUIRRE

E.O. 12958: DECL: 2/16/2020

TAGS: PREL PHUM CVIS PINR LY

SUBJECT: LIBYA MAKES GOOD ON THREAT TO DECLARE SCHENGEN VISA WAR REF: TRIPOLI 112 TRIPOLI 00000134 001.2 OF 003 CLASSIFIED BY: Gene A. Cretz, Ambassador, U.S. Embassy Tripoli, Department of State. REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)

1.(C) Summary: The Libyan Government unexpectedly followed through February 13 with threats to suspend visa issuance to nationals of Schengen member states (ref), deporting dozens of European nationals in the first 48 hours of the ban and creating chaos at Tripoli’s airport. Local media reports that the retaliation came in response to the alleged publication of a list of 188 Libyan officials and their families, including Libyan leader Muammar al-Qadhafi and son Saif al-Islam, whoSWITZERLAND barred from Schengen visa issuances. EU diplomats report that they have been unable to verify that the list was in fact published. A close aide to Saif al-Islam al-Qadhafi hinted that the Libyans had instituted the ban on Schengen travelers in frustration over the problems in the ongoing Swiss-Libyan negotiations. European diplomats have declared the situation a “political crisis,” and while some have publicly blamed the Swiss for the current situation, others quietly assess the move as a vintage Libyan attempt to up the ante in Swiss-Libyan negotiations at a moment when the contretemps appeared to be near resolution. Schengen members in Tripoli are debating how to respond to the Libyan move. End Summary.

POLICY IMPLEMENTATION LEADS TO AIRPORT CHAOS

2.(C) Late on February 13, the Libyan Government announced that it was halting issuance of visas to nationals of Schengen member countries, making good on its threats to retaliate for the Swiss ban on Schengen visa issuances for Libyan officials and Qadhafi family members. (The Swiss have been vetoing Schengen visas for certain Libyans since mid-2009, as part of their effort to resolve the plight of the two Swiss businessmen detained in Libya since the summer of 2008.) The Libyans began segregating Europeans from other arriving passengers late on February 14, holding them in the airport for several hours before ultimately deporting tens of European nationals, including several with valid residency permits. Although consuls were assured that European nationals with valid Libyan visas would still be granted entry into Libya, on February 14, European nationals on flights arriving in Libya from Rome, Valletta, and Vienna encountered serious difficulties at the airport. The Consul spoke with some Maltese who had arrived in Libya on an Air Malta flight on February 14; they had been detained at the airport for five hours, without food or water, before finally being allowed entry. The Consul also observed a European diplomat having difficulty entering the country, despite his valid diplomatic visa. The Italian Consul, who was at the airport’s main arrival hall, was not permitted by the Libyan authorities to enter the rest of the facility to confer with the detained Italians. The Maltese Ambassador was also prohibited from entering the airport. Several flights from Europe and elsewhere arrived throughout the day on February 15, and European diplomatic contacts reported that passengers were stacking up at the airport as the Libyan authorities decided whether to admit them.

3.(C) On February 16, the situation seemed to have improved somewhat, with only 20 Schengen nationals deported. An EU diplomat attributed the improvement to several factors. First, Lufthansa and Austrian Air had stopped boarding nationals from Schengen member states, vastly decreasing the number of arrivals in Tripoli. Second, the Italians and other EU members had issued consular travel notices warning citizens of the strong possibility of deportation upon arrival, which led to a decrease in the number of arrival and, the diplomat speculated, also led the Libyans to ease up on the deportations. The diplomat also reported that the February 16 deportations seemed to focus on arriving general managers of foreign companies, rather than short-term visitors.

SAIF’S NEWSPAPER ANNOUNCES THE BAN, GOL JUSTIFIES IT

4.(C) The controversial Libyan decision was first announced by the quasi-independent Oea online newspaper (part of Saif al-Islam al-Qadhafi’s Al Ghad media group) on February 14, in a report that quoted an anonymous Libyan official announcing that “Libya has decided to suspend granting visas to all EU nationals.” The newspaper asserted that the decision came “following SWITZERLAND’s decision to ban 188 Libyan figures from entering its territories. The Swiss ban includes the Libyan leader [Muammar al-Qadhafi] and his family, including Saif al-Islam.”

5.(C) In a February 15 conversation with Pol/Econ Chief, a TRIPOLI 00000134 002.2 OF 003 close aide and advisor to Saif al-Islam al-Qadhafi asserted that “the Europeans should not have been surprised” by the measure, as the issue of retaliation against all Schengen states for SWITZERLAND’s veto decision had been “raised with them lots of times, and as early as a month ago.” Since “none of the EU nations were choosing to pressure the Swiss,” the GOL decided to take action. Saif’s staff asserted that the visa issue had reached a breaking point, “especially for Saif,” who had been included on SWITZERLAND’s Schengen visa veto list despite his work to facilitate political reconciliation between the Swiss and Libyans. The aide asserted that Saif’s inclusion on the list was “humiliating to him.” He blamed the Swiss for stalling progress in the German-mediated political talks, claiming that the Swiss had backed off from a previous agreement to investigate the 2008 arrest inSWITZERLAND of Hannibal al-Qadhafi as part of the normalization package. According to the Russian ambassador, Saif was in Moscow on February 15 following a hunting trip in southern Russia.

6.(C) Foreign Minister-equivalent Musa Kusa met Schengen Ambassadors late in the day on February 15 to confirm that no further Libyan visas would be issued to Schengen nationals and that even those with valid visas would not be allowed entry, with no exceptions. When pressed by the ambassadors, Kusa agreed that diplomats from Schengen member nations would be permitted entry and, possibly, Schengen nationals with valid residency permits. However, he said that he would need to investigate further the residency issue.

7.(C) Kusa said that the Libyan Government had implemented the policy after the Swiss had published the list of 188 Libyan citizens on the Swiss Schengen veto list. Waving a document that he claimed was the published list, Kusa said that Libyan leader Muammar al-Qadhafi viewed the list as a personal insult that Libya could not endure. Although the GOL recognized that the decision to halt visas for Schengen nationals could cause economic loss and complications, Libya would stick to its policy. Kusa said that Libya had been isolated for years and could manage without Europe. “And if we need help, we can turn to the U.S., Japan, Russia, or Syria,” he reportedly told the ambassadors.

TRYING TO FIGURE OUT THE BACK STORY

8.(C) An Italian diplomat who briefed us on the Kusa meeting said that no one had been able to verify whether the Swiss veto list had in fact been published, and the Swiss have denied doing so. A French diplomat told us that the decision had come after a February 11 meeting chaired by PM-equivalent al-Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi, the same day the GOL returned the passport of Swiss businessman Rachid Hamdani. The French diplomat believed that al-Mahmoudi chose to refer the decision to allow Hamdani to depart Libya to Muammar al-Qadhafi himself, and that the Libyan leader’s response was to invoke the retaliatory ban on European nationals. The French diplomat suspected that the move was designed to up the ante in Swiss-Libyan negotiations at a moment when the contretemps appeared to be near resolution

9.(C) Swiss Charge Stefano Lazarotto said February 15 that based on readouts that he had received from Bern, the most recent, third round of German-mediated political talks had been positive, contrary to the report given by Saif al-Islam’s aide. Lazarotto believes that the GOL was well aware that the Swiss were ready to end the Schengen visa freeze and to begin issuing visas immediately after the two Swiss businessmen had been allowed to leave Libya. He defensively said that the idea of an arbitration council had been off the table since the September 18, 2009, “kidnapping” of the two Swiss businessmen by Libyan officials. After their release, Swiss negotiators agreed to establish an arbitration tribunal to investigate the Hannibal case only if the Libyans agreed to set up a similar tribunal to investigate the circumstances involved in the “kidnapping” of Rachid Hamdani and Max Goeldi; a stipulation the Libyans refused.

10.(C) Until February 13, Lazarotto was positive that Hamdani was on track to receive an exit visa and permission to depart the country — he had already been cleared of all charges and received his passport back from the GOL on Thursday evening, February 11. Also on February 11, the immigration court commuted Max Goeldi’s sentence to four, from sixteen, months, and he had agreed to pay the fine sentenced to him by the tax court. Goeldi’s lawyer was in the process of requesting a TRIPOLI 00000134 003.2 OF 003 suspension of the prison sentence, pending Libyan-Swiss political reconciliation. However, the “visa war” against Schengen states that Libya had declared moved the goal posts once again, and according to Lazarotto, was a typical pressure tactic that Libya was using to obtain something more from SWITZERLAND, although he did not venture to guess what that might be. He did not know how Bern would respond to the latest Libyan pressure, but he dejectedly assessed that the only solution left was “to cut diplomatic relations, for the benefit of all.” He believed that Bern was also coming to that conclusion.

11.(C) The Libyan Government’s move unleashed a barrage of attacks and infighting within the Schengen community. The Austrian Ambassador told the Swiss Charge that the visa halt had become a “political crisis.” In an interview with Italian media on February 16, the Italian Foreign Minister blamed the Swiss for the current situation, saying that SWITZERLAND’s unilateral ban on visas to Libyan officials had effectively held “other countries in the Schengen area hostage.” The Ambassador witnessed a spirited debate at a reception on the evening of February 15, with the Dutch ambassador arguing that according to the Schengen Treaty, other countries were entitled to unilaterally act in defiance of the Swiss “hold.” Other Europeans believed that was not the case but asserted that SWITZERLAND could choose to release other states of their obligations to prevent issuance of Shengen visas. Interestingly, several of the ambassadors believed they heard Musa Kusa say that that was not a solution; Libya, he reportedly said, would accept no Schengen solution that did not include SWITZERLAND’s returning to the status quo ante with regard to complete Schengen issuances by all countries in the treaty. A Schengen Committee meeting is scheduled for February 18 in Brussels, and EU foreign ministers are expected to meet on February 22, to discuss the EU response to the Libyan action.

COMMENT

12.(C) Libya’s escalation of its bilateral dispute with SWITZERLAND came at an unexpected time. The Swiss and Libyans had been moving forward with the political reconciliation process and were near resolution, indicating that the Libyan leader, or his son Saif al-Islam, may want something more than the Swiss are willing to give. While Libya’s pressure on European nations seems to be achieving its goal of dividing the European block through isolation of SWITZERLAND, the full ramifications of the Libyan visa ban remain to be seen in the EU’s response to the Libyans. The situation, if it is not resolved quickly, could evolve into a high-profile crisis over the coming days, with major implications for the ability of foreign companies to operate in Libya, as well as for EU-Libyan relations. CRETZ

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