Libya asks Niger to hand over Gadhafi's son
(AP) TRIPOLI, Libya — Libya demanded Niger hand over one of Moammar Gadhafi's sons who is under house arrest in the neighboring African nation after he warned in a television interview that his homeland was facing a new uprising.
Mohammed Hareizi, spokesman for the ruling National Transitional Council, said Saturday that Niger must extradite Al-Saadi Gadhafi and other ex-regime officials to "preserve its relationship and interests" in Libya.
The demand came days before the first anniversary of the Feb. 17 start of the uprising that led to months of civil war and the eventual ouster and death of the longtime Libyan leader. Al-Saadi Gadhafi and more than 30 other loyalists fled to Niger after Tripoli fell to rebels in September.
Niger Justice Minister Morou Amadou confirmed the demand had been received but said Niger's government has refused to extradite al-Saadi and the others to Libya because they risk being killed. However, Amadou said the government would agree to extradite al-Saadi to the Hague upon request by the International Criminal Court.
Gadhafi's son told Al-Arabiya TV in a telephone interview that supporters of his father's ousted regime "are suffering tremendously" in Libyan prisons at the hands of the country's new rulers. He also said his return to Libya was imminent.
He said he is in contact with people in Libya on a daily basis and claimed "70 percent of Libyans are unhappy with the current circumstances. They are ready to cooperate to change these conditions."
Gadhafi's son pointed to the proliferation of weapons in the oil-rich North African nation as many former rebels have refused to lay down their arms. He said Libyans were tired of widespread chaos.
"There is an uprising that will happen everywhere in the country," he told the station. "This will be a new popular uprising."
He called the new leadership a group of gangsters who are unable to control the various militias in the country. But he also said he was in touch with members of the NTC, which is governing the country until presidential elections can be held, and militia members. The NTC denied Saturday it has been in touch with Gadhafi or any of the former regime officials.
The interview infuriated Libya's leadership. Hareizi said the head of the NTC Mustafa Abdul-Jalil and Libya's foreign minister had discussed the issue with their counterparts in Niger and "stressed that they will not tolerate the issue and they will take firm measures." He didn't elaborate.
Al-Saadi Gadhafi's comments echoed complaints about the state of the Libya as the new leadership struggles to impose its authority over the vast desert nation since Gadhafi's regime was overthrown and the autocratic leader was captured and killed on Oct. 20.
International human rights organizations have complained of rampant torture of inmates in makeshift prisons operated by militias accused of seeking to exact revenge against the slain leader's former supporters. According to the U.N., various former rebel groups are holding as many as 8,000 prisoners in 60 detention centers around the country.
Libya's new leaders have promised to step up efforts to rein in the gunmen.
Another Gadhafi son, Seif al-Islam, was arrested in November by fighters in Libya's remote southern desert. He has been held largely without access to the outside world ever since and Libyan authorities say they want to put him on trial at home, despite an arrest warrant issued by the ICC.
Al-Saadi Gadhafi is not wanted by the ICC but is the subject of U.N. sanctions. He fled to Niger in September soon after the Libyan capital Tripoli fell to rebels.
Known for his love of professional soccer, Gadhafi's son reportedly had a colorful past that included run-ins with police in Europe, drug and alcohol abuse
By Marie-Louise Gumuchian and Ali Shuaib
TRIPOLI | Fri Feb 10, 2012 4:56pm EST
(Reuters) - Muammar Gaddafi's son Saadi warned on Friday of an imminent uprising in Libya, saying he was in regular contact with people in the country who were unhappy with the authorities put in place after the ousting and killing of his father.
Speaking to Al-Arabiya television by phone - the first time he has spoken publicly in months - Saadi said he wanted to return to Libya "at any minute" after escaping across the border to Niger when National Transitional Council forces captured the capital Tripoli in August.
He said he was in contact from Niger with the army, the militias, the NTC and other members of the Gaddafi family. It was impossible to verify where he was calling from as the station showed only an old still picture of Saadi as a backdrop to his words.
"First of all, it is not going to be an uprising limited to some areas. It will cover all the regions of the Jamahiriya and this uprising does exist and I am following and witnessing this as it grows bigger by the day," he said, referring to Libya.
"There will be a great uprising in the south, in the east, in the centre and in the west. All the regions of Libya will witness this new popular uprising."
A transitional government appointed in November is leading the country to elections in June but is struggling to restore services and impose order on myriad armed groups.
These groups fought hard in the campaign to topple Gaddafi but still refuse to hand in their weapons.
The government lost control of the former Gaddafi stronghold of Bani Walid last month after local people staged an armed revolt, posing the gravest challenge yet to the NTC's authority.
However elders in the desert city dismissed accusations they wanted to restore the late dictator's family to power or had any ambitions beyond their local area.
Saadi told Al-Arabiya: "The Libyan people should revolt against these militias and against this deteriorating situation. The NTC is not a legitimate body ... and is not in control of the militias," he added. "We call on all to be ready for the coming uprising."
"We have to exert pressure to change this situation and to remove this evil doing that exists in Libya. We do not know any such thing as elections. We are a Muslim nation," he said.
Government officials were not immediately available for comment. Mohammed al-Alagy, former interim justice minister and who now heads the human rights council, told Al-Arabiya Saadi's comments were "an attempt to drive a wedge between the Libyan people."
Saadi, a businessman and former professional footballer, said he was in contact with people in Libya. Interpol last year issued a "red notice" requesting member states to arrest Saadi with a view to extradition if they find him in their territory.
"I have daily communications with Libya from Niger and these contacts are not just to start the uprising but also to follow up the status of our tribes, our relatives and the people," he said.
"The situation of the people is deteriorating. I am in contact with the militias, the tribes, the NTC and the national army. I can confirm that more than 70 percent of those who are in Libya now whether they support the February 17th (revolution) or not, all are not satisfied with the situation and are ready to cooperate to change this situation."
Libya is preparing for the first anniversary of the start of the February 17 uprising which began in the eastern city of Benghazi. Libyan armed forces chief Yousef al-Mangoush this week said there were concerns for potential sabotage of the anniversary by Gaddafi loyalists.
"A large number of February 17th members do regret this and we are now in full cooperation with the February 17th and our supporters to change this deteriorating situation," Saadi said. "As for my return, yes I must return to Libya and this will happen at any minute. If I do return I will prevent any revenge."
Saadi said he was also in contact with his family members. Gaddafi's wife Safiya, his daughter Aisha and his sons Mohammed and Hannibal fled to Algeria in August. Saadi's brother Saif al-Islam was captured in the Sahara desert in November and is now being held in the town of Zintan.
"I am in contact with my family inside and outside Libya and in the neighboring countries and in Europe," Saadi said.
"I call on all the elders, the youth, the militias and the tribes to come and to sit with each other and to negotiate with each other and to come up with a true reconciliation."
Mexican authorities said in December they had uncovered and stopped an international plot to smuggle Saadi into the country using fake names and false papers.
(Reporting by Ali Shuaib and Omar Fahmy in Cairo; Writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Editing by Alison Williams)