Update: Egyptian detainees in Libya to be released, say sources

The Egyptian Embassy in Tripoli has negotiated the release of 19 Egyptians detained in Libya, diplomatic sources told state run MENA on Thursday.

Fifteen of the detainees have already been released, and only four more remain to be released this evening or tomorrow morning.

Earlier today, dozens from the Salam village in Fayoum protested yesterday in front of the Foreign Ministry, demanding the release and return of their relatives detained in Libya. They have begun a sit-in until their demands are met.

"One of the detainees who was released from Ain Zara Prison visited us two days ago," said Saeed Hassan, a protester. "He told us that Abu Salim police in Tripoli had arrested about 200 Egyptians, including 90 from our village, and asked them to tell the Egyptian government to hand over Ahmed Qadhaf al-Dam, who resides in Egypt, in exchange for their release."

State-run news agency MENA reported Wednesday that the Egyptians had been detained after they began fighting with Libyan revolutionary soldiers.

Hassan said his brother and three cousins ​​are in Libya. He said the released detainee told him Libyan police are torturing the prisoners and had shot two of them, “but we don’t know who they are and cannot call anyone there.”

Hassan stressed that the protesters will not leave until the foreign minister negotiates with Libyan authorities to bring the prisoners back to Egypt.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Amr Roshdy, however, denied that Egyptians were being targeted in Libya.

When asked about Libya's demands for Egypt to hand over some figures from the former Qadhafi regime, Roshdy said: “There are contacts between officials in Cairo and Tripoli to discuss the status of these figures, in accordance with the provisions of the Convention on Extradition signed between Egypt and Libya in this regard.”

Roshdy stressed that in dealing with this issue, Egypt considers the interests of the Libyan people first and would not do anything to harm Libya's national interests.

He also denied rumors that Egypt has allowed two channels against the Libyan revolution to be broadcast from Cairo. He described the rumors as malicious and attempts to drive a wedge between the Egyptian and Libyan revolutions.

Roshdy also announced that contacts between Egyptian Ambassador to Libya Hesham Abdel Wahab and Libyan authorities had managed to prevent the detained Egyptians from being deported.

However, Abdel Wahab told state-run news agency MENA Wednesday morning that the 200 detainees had been released after the Egyptian Embassy in intervened.

A Cabinet source has said that the government has begun taking action against figures from the former Libyan regime, starting by identifying their whereabouts in Egypt in preparation for extradition to Libya. Egypt will do so after Libyan authorities finish legal proceedings against the figures and determine their charges, said the source.

The source added: “The government has received a list of 16 former Libyan regime figures that Libyan authorities are demanding to be extradited for crimes of financial and administrative corruption.”

According to the source, a Cabinet meeting was held a few days ago with the ministers of interior, justice and foreign affairs to discuss how these figures will be found and prevented from exiting the country.

The list received by the Egyptian government includes Qadhafi's cousin and former Egyptian-Libyan relations coordinator Ahmed Qadhaf al-Dam, his assistant Ebrik al-Manqoosh al-Zowy, his brother-in-law Atallah Qadhaf al-Dam, and Ahmad Ibrahim al-Qadhaf.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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