Italy: We Have Not Received a Formal Request From Libya For The Exchange of Prisoners

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The Italian Foreign Minister, Luigi Di Maio, denied receiving a formal request from Libyan authorities for the release of Libyan prisoners held in Italy. This is in exchange for releasing a number of Italian fishermen detained in Benghazi.

The four Libyans are imprisoned on charges of human trafficking, that led to the deaths of 49 migrants. Their families “have received guarantees from the General Command in Benghazi, that the release of the fishermen depends on Italy’s release of their children.” They also deny that the young men were involved in the trafficking of migrants, claiming they were refugees “who fled the war to continue their careers as soccer players in Germany, and were wrongly convicted.”

On 1 September, Libyan National Army (LNA) naval forces seized a ship with six Italian fishermen on board. They were accused of fishing in Libyan territorial waters and transported to Benghazi. Di Maio stated that Italy does not recognize the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) that Libya previously unilaterally declared.