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Bern, Press release, 29.05.2009

Federal Councillor Micheline Calmy-Rey, head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), visited Libya from 27 to 29 May 2009. The main purpose of this visit was to meet the two Swiss citizens who have been detained in Libya for 300 days and are not permitted to leave the country. Mrs Calmy-Rey was accompanied on her visit by the wives of the two detained Swiss citizens and by a doctor.

The purpose of the three-day visit by Mrs Calmy-Rey to Tripoli was to meet the two Swiss citizens who are still detained by the Libyan authorities. These citizens are subjected to enormous pressure. Mrs Calmy-Rey met them to provide moral support in their difficult situation and to form her own impression of their physical and psychological condition on the spot. Mrs Calmy-Rey travelled together with a doctor and with the wives of the two detained Swiss citizens.  

In July 2008, the Geneva cantonal police, on the instructions of the Geneva justice authorities, temporarily detained Mr Hannibal Gadhafi and his wife. This led to a deterioration of the bilateral relations between Libya and Switzerland. The two Swiss citizens, who were working as businessmen in Libya, were temporarily imprisoned, and the Libyan authorities then imposed retaliatory measures against Swiss businesses. Even today Swiss companies cannot freely carry out their activities on Libyan territory. 

The FDFA is working intensively to find a solution to this problem. The bilateral contacts and talks that Switzerland has been holding with Libya since the summer of 2008 are continuing. During the visit talks were held in which significant progress was made.  

For further information please contact:
Lars Knuchel, Head of Information FDFA, +41 79 277 55 60

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