UN steps in for Turkish citizens detained in Libya - The Libyan Report

UN steps in for Turkish citizens detained in Libya

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has consulted the U.N. for the release of two Turkish citizens, Mehmet Demir and Volkan Altınok, who were allegedly detained last May just south of Tripoli by the Libyan National Army (LNA).

Speaking on the issue, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu assured yesterday that initiatives started on every level for the Turkish citizens, who were working in a restaurant in the Qasr bin Ghashir region, to be freed. He added that direct phone calls with the two citizens were realized and their families were informed on the developments.

A news website affiliated with warlord Khalifa Haftar's forces claimed the two were charged with espionage, although Turkish officials dismissed the allegations. The two men were reportedly taken to a prison near Benghazi.

"We recognize the Government of National Accord (GNA) as a legal government," Çavuşoğlu stated regarding the political development in Libya, referring to the government established based on U.N. laws.

Dozens were killed when Haftar's forces launched an assault to capture Tripoli in April and thousands of others have been displaced in areas where fighting between Haftar's self-styled army and the government forces escalated.

Libya has remained dogged by turmoil since 2011 when a NATO-backed uprising led to the ouster and death of former President Moammar Gadhafi after more than four decades in power.

Since then, Libya's stark political divisions have yielded two rival seats of power, one in Tobruk and another in Tripoli and a host of heavily armed militia groups. The military push by Haftar's army, allied with a parallel eastern administration based in Benghazi, marked a dangerous escalation of a power struggle that has dragged on since the overthrow of Gadhafi. Haftar is not recognized by the international community, as the elected parliament of the country is centered in Tripoli. However, Haftar, with the financial and political support of certain countries, including some Gulf states, has appeared as an influential actor in the war-torn country. source