Italian Intelligence Works to Release Detained Fishermen in Libya


The Italian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Manlio Di Stefano, revealed the efforts of the Italian intelligence services, and other countries, in finding a solution to the Sicilian fishermen detained in Benghazi.

“It is not about money rather, there is also the issue of the balance of internal forces in Libya, and the feeling of those who detained them are dissatisfied with fishing boats in Libyan waters. The aim is to bring the fishermen back home, but after that we will also have to discuss the cause of such accidents, as it is neither the first nor will it be the last fishing boat to be seized.”

On Friday, the European Union called upon the eastern Libyan authorities to immediately release the fishermen detained since September. The Sicilian fishermen were arrested by the Libyan National Army (LNA) over charges of fishing in Libyan territorial waters.

Italian opposition MPs described the European appeal as “a positive thing, even if it is a little late. After the fishermen were arrested for more than 100 days, we have seen from the government of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio only words and good intentions, but there has been no progress in the case.”

On 1 September, the LNA arrested 18 Italian fishermen for illegally entering 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 organizing a crossing from Libya, in which 49 migrants died. Libya is seeking a prisoner swap with the Italian government.