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Libya not yet ready to release two Swiss

The Libyan authorities have told Swiss television that the two Swiss nationals being held in the country must go before the state prosecutor to face visa violation charges.

This content was published on August 31, 2009 minutes

Switzerland had expected the two men - detained in Libya since July 2008 - to be allowed to fly home before September 1, as part of a deal reached with Swiss President Hans-Rudolf Merz.

The latest announcement by the general secretary of the Libyan foreign ministry, Khaled Kaim, is another obstacle in a diplomatic dispute that seemed to be nearing conclusion.

On August 20 Merz travelled to Libya where he apologised for the "unjustified" arrest in Geneva last year of Gaddafi's son and daughter-in-law. Even though the couple were released, Tripoli retaliated by limiting trade, stopping flights and holding the two Swiss businessmen.

Merz said he received assurances from the Libyan government that the Swiss would be allowed to fly back to Switzerland before September 1.

But Kaim said in the television interview that the two men would not be freed before Wednesday at the earliest, a day after the 40th anniversary celebrations of the coming to power of Libyan leader, Moammar Gaddafi.

A spokesman from Merz's finance ministry told the Swiss News Agency that he was surprised by the latest development.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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