Official: EU lifts sanctions on Libyan defector

AP News
Posted: Apr 14, 2011 11:21 AM
Official: EU lifts sanctions on Libyan defector

The European Union has rewarded the most senior official to defect from the regime of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi by unfreezing his assets and lifting a visa ban that had barred him from traveling in any of the 27 EU countries.

The measure lifting sanctions against former Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa _ agreed to Tuesday but made public Thursday _ was at least in part an attempt to lure other senior figures into deserting Gadhafi defectors, an EU official said.

Lifting the sanctions required the assent of all European Union countries. But the official said the action was taken at the request of Britain, to which Koussa flew March 30 to defect. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss confidential deliberations.

The British Foreign Office issued a statement Thursday explaining its reasoning.

"Sanctions are introduced to invoke behavioral change and as Moussa Koussa has chosen to leave regime he is no longer sanctioned in this way," the statement said.

Koussa was a trusted Gadhafi adviser, and he has been blamed for some of Libya's brutality and credited for some of its diplomatic successes. He was Libya's chief of intelligence for more than a decade and is privy to all the inner workings of the regime. He has been debriefed thoroughly by British officials.

The Libyan opposition blames him for the assassinations of dissidents in western capitals and for orchestrating the 1988 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland, and the bombing of another jet over Niger a year later. The links have never been confirmed.

In later years, Koussa played an important role in persuading Western nations to lift sanctions on Libya and remove its name from the list of state sponsors of terrorism. He led settlements of Lockerbie, offered all information about Libya's nuclear program and gave London and Washington information about Islamic militants after the Sept. 11 attacks.