Italy Denies Prisoner-Swap Deal with Libya

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The Italian Foreign Minister, Luigi Di Maio denied reports that a prisoner swap deal was reached with the commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA), Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar. This was in reference to the release of the Sicilian fishermen detained in Benghazi, who the Libyan authorities wanted to exchange for the release of four Libyans imprisoned in Italy.

“Our fishermen were freed without any conditions,” Di Maio said in a TV interview on the sidelines of his visit to Doha. He praised the efforts made by AISE (Italian External Intelligence) and to all diplomatic corps who worked to secure their release

Di Maio said, “I am very happy with their return to Italy,” adding that, “We have restored ties with Haftar to normal.”

On 1 September, the LNA Navy arrested eighteen 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 organising a crossing from Libya, in which 49 migrants died.