News24

Aus lawyer held in Libya contacts family

2012-06-27 07:53

Sydney - An Australian lawyer detained in Libya on an International Criminal Court visit to Muammar Gaddafi's son has been able to contact her family and let them know she is well, Canberra said Wednesday.

Melinda Taylor had been allowed to phone her husband in The Hague overnight following a brief visit from Australia's ambassador to Libya, David Ritchie, to the Zintan prison where she was being held.

Taylor advised her family she was "well and in good spirits", according to Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr, who said it was the first phone contact she had made since being detained on 7 June.

Ritchie had passed on a message of support from Taylor's family and conveyed to her that the Australian government "remains committed to her swift release".

"I thank the Libyan authorities, especially Prime Minister El-Keib, for his assurances of consular access and for his efforts in making this visit and phone call possible," Carr said.

Taylor and three of her colleagues were detained in Zintan during a visit to help Gaddafi’s son, Saif al-Islam, prepare his defence against ICC charges of crimes against humanity during his father's rule.

Tripoli has accused Taylor of carrying a pen camera and attempting to give Saif al-Islam a coded letter from his former right-hand man, Mohammed Ismail, who is on the run.

Carr said the family contact was "encouraging" and indicated there was "now a line of authority between the National Transitional Council and the authorities in Zintan".

"We find it encouraging but it stops short of being the news that we want, that her family wants, which is her release," he told reporters.