Added by Nigel Shelbourne on March 2, 2011
Libyan authorities have released an Australian man detained in the country for more than a week.
The release, said to have been facilitated by Turkish embassy staff in Tripoli, came after furious lobbying from the Australian government. Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd said: “We pulled out all the stops to obtain his safe release from custody.”
The man has now been evacuated from Libya on a military plane bound for Turkey.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard expressed her gratitude to Turkey as well as to the US, the UK, Canada, Jordan and Egypt for their help in contacting and evacuating Australian citizens.
A small number of Australians reportedly remain in Libya, some of whom are dual nationals who have decided to stay, Mr Rudd said. Since the unrest started two weeks ago, more than 100 Australians have fled the country.
The UN, who last week in a unprecedented move suspended Libya from its main human rights body in addition to imposing sanctions and an arms embargo, said conservative estimates of the number of dead following Muammar Gaddafi’s crack-down on protesters are at 1,000.
Ms Gillard, who supports the measures imposed by the UN, said the international community should also consider a no-fly zone to prevent Gaddafi from using his air force against demonstrators.
Mr Rudd said the Australian government will give $5 million to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and other agencies working in the area to support the hundreds of thousands of refugees stranded on Libya’s border with Tunisia and Egypt.