Gadhafi son: Libyan defector has nothing to reveal

AP News
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Posted: Apr 05, 2011 11:56 AM
Gadhafi son: Libyan defector has nothing to reveal

The British-educated son of Libya's leader said Tuesday the country's former foreign minister, who fled to the U.K. last week, has no new information to offer authorities questioning him about the Lockerbie bombing.

British officials are debriefing Moussa Koussa, who resigned from Moammar Gadhafi's government and sought refuge in Britain. The officials also are encouraging Koussa to answer questions from Scottish police and prosecutors over the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, which killed 270 people _ mostly Americans.

Gadhafi's son, Seif al-Islam, repeatedly called Koussa "sick and old" in an interview with the BBC that was broadcast on Tuesday and suggested Koussa might resort to making up "funny stories" about Lockerbie and his father in exchange for immunity.

"The British and the Americans ... they know everything about Lockerbie so there are no secrets" Koussa can reveal, Seif said _ claims dismissed as bluster and damage control by Libya experts.

Oliver Miles, a former British ambassador to Libya, called Seif's comments "a rather feeble attempt to reduce the damage done to Gadhafi's camp" by Koussa's defection.

"It'd be rather surprising if he didn't have any secrets to tell," Miles said.

Still, Miles said it is "disappointing" that Koussa has not yet made any statement to clearly announce his defection and say why he left. If Koussa had spoken out against Gadhafi strongly that would "carry a lot of weight" with Libyan public opinion, Miles said.

"Moussa Koussa ought to be able to say things now publicly which would be helpful to the cause of the allies and damaging to the cause of Gadhafi."

British officials have declined repeated requests to comment on the information Koussa might be sharing, saying the discussions are too sensitive.

But British Foreign Secretary William Hague has repeatedly said that no member of Gadhafi's inner circle _ including Koussa _ would be offered immunity from prosecution for past crimes.

The U.S. Treasury Department said Monday, however, that it has removed Koussa from a blacklist of Libyan officials who had been banned from traveling to the United States and whose assets in U.S. jurisdictions had been frozen.

The department said it took the step to reward Koussa for his decision last week to defect and encourage other members of Gadhafi's inner circle to follow suit.

Hague said the European Union will open talks this week on lifting restrictions imposed on Koussa.

Seif al-Islam, who studied at the London School of Economics, on Tuesday brushed off any suggestion that his father's inner circle was crumbling, saying that "of course" there were going to be defections among senior members of the regime, who are worn down from two weeks of sustained bombings.

"They are old people, they are not young like us," he told the BBC.