Ahmed Maiteeq, Vice President of the Government of National Accord’s (GNA) Presidential Council, suggested a prisoner exchange between Benghazi and Rome in order to end the issue of the detained Italian fishermen in Libya.
“We are working diligently to secure the release of the Italian fishermen. Even today my collaborators were talking about it with the Benghazi officials”, Maitieeq told the Italian newspaper ‘Corriere della Sera’. “I think the direction is that of the exchange for the Libyan footballers in Italy”, Maiteeq said.
Maiteeq pointed out that there are already prisoner exchange treaties between Italy and Libya. “I believe this is the way. I hope for success as soon as possible. But I don’t know when exactly”, he said, reiterating that “there is no other way, if not that of peaceful negotiation”.
On 1 September, Libyan naval forces arrested 18 Italian fishermen who encroached on Libyan waters. In 2015, four young Libyans in Sicily were sentenced by the magistrates of Catania to 30 years in prison. They were accused of organising a migrant crossing from Libya, in which 49 migrants died.
Libya is seeking a prisoner swap with the Italian government. Rome has claimed it refused to be “blackmailed” over the issue.