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Jordan to hand over Libyan Islamist in return for abducted ambassador

Jordan has agreed to hand over jailed Libyan Islamist Mohammed Dersi to Tripoli in return for the release of the Jordanian ambassador Fawaz Al-Itian who was kidnapped in Libya two weeks ago; Libya’s state news agency LANA reported yesterday.

The Jordanian ambassador was kidnapped in Libya by gunmen who demanded Dersi’s release. In 2007, Dersi was sentenced to life in prison on charges of plotting to blow up the main airport in Amman.

Reuters quoted Sahar Bannon, undersecretary in the Libyan Justice Ministry, as saying that the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding agreeing to release the kidnapped ambassador in exchange for Jordan reducing Dersi’s sentence and allowing him to complete his jail term in Libya.

The Libyan official did not reveal further details or a time frame for the exchange.

The Jordanian and Libyan officials were not available for comment.

A lawyer who represents Islamist organisations in Jordan, Musa Abdallat, claimed the Jordanian authorities have already transferred Dersi to Libya; he declined to reveal his sources.

Analysts have previously said that agreeing to the kidnappers demand has set a dangerous precedent for Jordan, an important ally of the United States in its fight against Al-Qaeda.

Kidnappings have spread in Libya and often target foreign diplomats.

The Tunisian government said that Libyan Islamists have also abducted two Tunisian diplomats to demand the release of fellow militants imprisoned in Tunisia for attacking security forces there in 2011.

The Libyan news agency quoted Bannon as saying: “The Tunisian government has confirmed its willingness to cooperate with the Libyan government especially with regards the kidnapped Tunisian diplomats.”

She gave no other details.

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