Aus calls for release of lawyer in Libya

2012-06-11 08:07
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Sydney - Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Monday urged Libyan authorities to release an Australian lawyer accused of spying, as Canberra ramped up diplomatic efforts to secure the woman's freedom.

Melinda Taylor was detained on Thursday after meeting Saif al-Islam, the detained son of slain dictator Muammar Gaddafi, as part of a four-person team from the International Criminal Court (ICC).

"I am very concerned about the detention of Ms Taylor," Gillard told reporters.

"We are calling on the Libyan government to expedite the end of Ms Taylor's detention."

Gillard said while she had been assured that Taylor was safe and well, Canberra wanted to see her detention "come to an end as quickly as possible" and had dispatched to the country its ambassador-designate to Libya.

Australia would also work with Spain, Russia and Lebanon - whose nationals comprise the other members of the ICC team - to raise its concerns, she added.

Earlier Foreign Minister Bob Carr said he had spoken to Libya's Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammed Abdel Aziz to raise his concerns about Taylor, who has so far been unable to speak to consular officials or her husband.

"I said that her welfare is very, very important to us," Carr told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

"We want consular access and we hope we can have it soon. We hope we can have it today. We would like this resolved quickly so that she can rejoin her husband in The Hague and their two-year-old child."

Drawings and symbols

Australian officials would not comment on the allegations against Taylor, reported to be 36, who was detained after a meeting with Saif in the town of Zintan, about 180km from Tripoli.

Ahmed Jehani, Libya's envoy to the ICC, has said that Taylor is in detention because she was found "exchanging papers with the accused Saif al-Islam".

Jehani alleged that Taylor was carrying a pen camera and a letter from Mohammed Ismail, Saif’s former right-hand man who is now on the run.

Jehani said the letter contained drawings and symbols, a "code" that would only be understood by the sender and the intended recipient, Saif.

"According to Libyan law, it would be spying, communication with the enemy," the envoy said.

Carr said he had been told that Taylor was not being held in jail or under arrest and that she was in good health.

She was "being detained not by the militia, not by the freedom fighters but by the judicial police as they are called and she is therefore the responsibility of the attorney-general of Libya", he said.

In a statement from the foreign ministry, Taylor's parents said their thoughts were "very much with our daughter, Melinda, and her colleagues" but added that they would not comment further publicly.

The ICC team was in Libya to help Saif choose a defence lawyer and the court has said that the visit was authorised by Libya's chief prosecutors. The Hague-based ICC wants to try Saif, 39, for crimes against humanity.

But the new regime in Libya wants to put Saif on trial in a local court, while ex-rebels in Zintan who are holding Gaddafi’s son are refusing to send him to Tripoli for fear that he might escape.


Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


Shilowa supports Vote No campaign

Former Gauteng premier Mbhazima Shilowa has come out in support of the Vote No! Campaign launched recently by former intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils and former deputy health minister Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, says a report.


Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
  • Thursday Cape Town - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Buitengracht Street
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Waterkant Street
More traffic reports...

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now! - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Huawei B683 21Mbps 3G Wireless Router

Huawei B683 21Mbps 3G Wireless Router The B683 wireless gateway (hereinafter...

From R1671.00

I'm shopping for:


You may be good at organising events but they do take their toll on your energy levels. You may need some time out today just more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.