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Jordanian ambassador's kidnappers seek Libyan militant's release - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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This undated photo released by the Jordanian state news agency PETRA shows Fawaz al-Etan, the Jordanian ambassador in Libya, during his oath when he was appointed to be the ambassador in Libya in Amman, Jordan. (AP Photo/PETRA)

This undated photo released by the Jordanian state news agency PETRA shows Fawaz Al-Itan, the Jordanian ambassador in Libya, during his oath when he was appointed to be the ambassador in Libya in Amman, Jordan. (AP Photo/PETRA)

Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—The kidnappers of Jordan’s ambassador to Libya, Fawaz Al-Itan, have called for the release of an Islamist militant being held in Jordan, Libyan authorities said on Tuesday.

Itan was kidnapped on Tuesday morning in the Libyan capital of Tripoli. Eyewitnesses told Asharq Al-Awsat: “Two masked men driving separate cars without license plates attacked the ambassador and his driver and bundled him into a car before driving away.”

The eye-witnesses said that a total of four men were involved in the kidnapping, and said Itan’s driver was shot in the leg, while the ambassador was forced into a white vehicle.

Libyan authorities announced that the kidnappers had demanded the release of Mohamed Dersi, a Libyan national jailed for life in 2007 for plotting to blow up a Jordanian airport. Dersi was reportedly arrested while in the process of trying to carry out a terrorist attack, and the official documents surrounding his arrest and imprisonment name him as a member of Al-Qaeda.

Libyan security sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that they are investigating Dersi’s family for any information on the kidnapping, adding that the ambassador’s kidnappers had most likely monitored Itan’s movements over a period of weeks.

Jordanian Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour vowed on Tuesday that his government would take “all necessary measures to protect his [Itan’s] life and secure his release.”

The Jordanian lawyer representing Mohamed Dersi, Moussa Al-Abd, told Asharq Al-Awsat that he is prepared to travel to Tripoli to mediate between the kidnappers and authorities “on the condition that the Jordanian government guarantees to free my client, Mohamed Dersi, who is sentenced to lifetime imprisonment with hard labor.”

Abd, who is well-known for representing Islamists, claimed that Dersi is suffering a number of health problems in prison and had recently been transferred to Al-Jameel hospital in Amman for treatment. “He is currently being held in Al-Mawfar prison, 30 kilometers outside of Amman,” he said.

He added that he had previously sent a special petition to Prime Minister Ensour seeking a special amnesty for his client and his return to Libya, but that the Jordanian authorities had failed to respond.

Mohamed Al-Daameh contributed reporting from Amman.