Tripoli, 1 October:
The Australian aid worker detained by the authorities following an alleged sexual offence involving the deputy health minister has been freed.
Alexandra Bean, who works for the UN’s International Organisation for Migration, was detained at Tripoli airport on Wednesday on her way to a conference in Rome.
Her arrest followed allegations, which Bean denies, that she was raped by Deputy Health Minister Almahdi Alamen. There are suggestions that the charge is an attempt to smear the minister.
The health ministry has not yet responded to requests by the Libya Herald for comment.
Bean’s initial interrogation lasted for four hours, and concluded with the authorities confiscating her passport after she refused to sign a document in Arabic which she did not understand.
It is believed the document in question was her testimony.
Consular support was initially provided by the British Embassy, owing to the fact that Australia does not maintain its own diplomatic mission in Libya.
The Australian government came in for strong criticism by Bean’s family and opposition parties in Australia for failing to get representatives into Libya quickly enough.
A senior Australian diplomat, Simon Harrison, arrived in Tripoli on Saturday and her release was negotiated following a series of meetings with the authorities yesterday. [/restrict]