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Release "almost a dream" for Libya hostage

A Swiss national allowed to leave Libya after nearly 600 days detained in the North African country has called his release “almost a dream”.

“It happened very quickly,” Rachid Hamdani, a duel Swiss-Tunisian national, told Swiss television. He is expected to arrive in Geneva on Tuesday afternoon.

Hamdani, 69, left the Swiss embassy in Tripoli on Monday and crossed the Tunisian border later in the evening.

He and Max Göldi, another Swiss national, were picked up by Libyan authorities in July 2008 after the arrest of one of Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi’s sons in Geneva. Göldi was taken to a Libyan prison on Monday to begin serving a four-month jail sentence.

Spending time in prison was “the hardest time of my life”, said Hamdani. “I’m not in my normal state.”

He said he was not mistreated and spoke of the friendship he built with Göldi.

“We were always together. This separation of friends is painful. I feel a little bad returning all alone, without him,” Hamdani said.

Humans rights organisation Amnesty International said on Tuesday that Göldi was in a “model Libyan prison” in which the conditions were decent.

He has already been visited by a representative of the Swiss foreign ministry, who said Göldi was doing well under the circumstances. and agencies

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