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Calmy-Rey visits detainees in Libya

Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey has returned from a three-day visit to Libya focusing on two Swiss nationals detained for more than 300 days.

This content was published on May 29, 2009 - 15:53

The pair have been held as a retaliatory response to the arrest in July last year of Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi's son Hannibal in Geneva.

Calmy-Rey, who wanted to check on the physical and mental health of the two Swiss herself, was accompanied by the detainees' wives and a doctor.

"Significant progress" had been made, the foreign ministry said in a statement on Friday.

The Swiss nationals, one of whom is an employee of Swedish-Swiss firm ABB, have been formally arrested and charged with immigration offences.

At the time of their detention, the Swiss foreign ministry said they were being held in "unacceptable and very alarming" conditions and the Swiss government had serious doubts about the Libyan allegations against them.

Hannibal and his wife Aline were charged by a Swiss magistrate with inflicting physical injuries and using threats and force against two of their staff. They were released on bail and left the country.

Since the summer Libya has taken a number of steps against Switzerland and Swiss nationals, including a threat to suspend oil supplies to Switzerland. In December it told Swiss International Air Lines it could no longer fly to Tripoli "for technical reasons".

Since the dispute erupted the Swiss foreign ministry has been conducting talks with Libya in an attempt to find an agreement, but few details have emerged.

swissinfo.ch with agencies

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