Libyan Defector: Gadhafi Mounts Terror Through Foreign Ministry
WASHINGTON (AP) _ A Libyan defector who says he worked as a decoder for Libya’s foreign ministry accuses Col. Moammar Gadhafi of trying to assassinate the presidents of France and Egypt.
Libyan authorities say the defector is a low-level diplomat wanted on morals charges who was recruited by the CIA to discredit Gadhafi.
At a news conference Thursday organized by Gadhafi’s main opposition movement, The National Front for the Salvation of Libya, Salem A. Saity said he defected from his post at the Libyan mission to the United Nations after being recalled ″for consultations.″
Saity, 29, said he realized then that his cover as an activist in the opposition movement had been blown, especially when he noticed he was being followed and his phone was tapped.
He declined to say whether he would seek political asylum here, adding that the movement would take the necessary precautions against possible threats from Libyan agents.
Mahmoud Azzabi, the spokesman for Libya’s nine-member U.N. mission in New York, said Saity disappeared at the end of January after being given an airline ticket and told to return home to face morals charges. He said he did not know what the specific charges were against Saity.
″Two things were on his mind all the time - booze and women,″ Azzabi said. ″That was all he talked about.″
″This is an all-out effort of the U.S. administration to discredit″ the political liberalization Gadhafi introduced last month, Azzabi added.
″He wasn’t very important and he was not wanted for political reasons, so we didn’t pay attention or send letters to the United Nations″ when he disappeared, he added. Azzabi denied that Saity worked with classified material.
Saity, who spoke in Arabic through an interpreter, said he had been on the staff of the foreign minister in Libya, working as a decoder in the classified section of the ministry as well as at the U.N. mission. In the course of his work, Saity said, he saw communications from Tripoli to Libyan missions abroad.
One such communication relayed through the ministry in 1984 was from Abdallah Sinousi, the head of military intelligence, ordering the Libyan embassy in Tanzania to kill visiting Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Saity said.
Sinousi also sent an order to the embassy in Burundi to assassinate Mubarak and French President Francois Mitterand at a francophone countries summit in 1985, Saity said.
Gadhafi sent a man by the name of Mohammed Zabeida to the U.N. mission to carry out attacks against his opponents living in the United States, Saity said. He said U.S. authorities had gotten wise to Zabeida and he had fled back to Libya in 1986.
The Libyan mission spokesman said he had never heard of the incident.
″His rule is synonymous with endless hostile interventions around the globe,″ Saity said of Gadhafi. ″He has ransacked Libya’s wealth ... to fulfill his evil schemes.″
Saity denied being recruited by U.S. authorities, but did not rule out contacting them in the future. ″It’s too soon to tell″ about his plans, he said.
The State Department said it had no knowledge of Saity or his activities.
Saity said he was certain his parents in Libya would be persecuted because of his defection but he felt compelled to denounce Gadhafi, who ″has reduced Libya to a refuge of crime, bankruptcy and corruption.″