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UN rights chief tells Libya to free Swiss

The United Nations’ human rights chief says Libya is violating the basic rights of two Swiss businessman held hostage there and is calling for their release.

This content was published on December 8, 2009 - 14:50

Navi Pillay, the UN high commissioner for human rights, said on Tuesday that the men had unfairly become victims of a political dispute between Switzerland and Libya.

Max Göldi and Rashid Hamdani were taken into custody in July 2008 shortly after Geneva police arrested Hannibal Gaddafi, a son of Libyan ruler Moammar Gaddafi, and his wife on charges they abused their domestic staff at a city hotel.

The men worked for Libyan offices of Swiss firms. They have not been allowed to leave the country since.

Despite an apology from Swiss President Hans-Rudolf Merz for the Gaddafi arrest, Libyan authorities in late November 2009 sentenced Göldi and Hamdani to 16 months in prison for visa violations.

Last week, human rights group Amnesty International launched an appeal for the release of the two men. Some 7,625 candles have been lit and more than 2,000 Twitter messages have been sent on their behalf.

The group has distributed more than 20,000 postcards reading "See you in Switzerland" that can be sent to the Swiss embassy in Tripoli.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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