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Swiss visas for Libyans down to a trickle

Switzerland has drastically reduced the number of visas granted to Libyan citizens, with only 83 issued so far this year compared to 5,902 in the same period last year.

In response to a motion submitted by the Foreign Affairs Commission of the House of Representatives, the government on Thursday revealed the extent of the restrictions imposed since the detention of two Swiss businessmen by the regime in Tripoli.

The men were first detained in Tripoli in July 2008, days after the arrest of the Libyan leader's son Hannibal Gaddafi and his wife Aline in Geneva on charges of mistreating their servants.

Swiss representatives abroad no longer have the right to issue visas to Libyans and all applications are currently being referred to the Foreign Ministry and Federal Migration Office.

Earlier this month, Libya complained about a European policy of restricting Schengen visas to Libyan citizens. Switzerland is part of the Schengen area, and under the agreement has a veto over the allocation of the visas which allow border-free travel throughout the 25 member countries in mainland Europe.

Claiming that the majority of Libyan applications were being denied, deputy foreign minister Khaled Kaïm denounced a "systematic and programmed solidarity with Switzerland". and agencies


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