Tripoli, 28 September:
An Australian aid worker living in Libya has been arrested by the Libyan authorities following an alleged sexual offence said to involve Deputy Health Minister Almahdi Alamen.
Alexandra Bean, who works for the UN’s International Organisation for Migration, was stopped by officials at the boarding gate at Tripoli airport on Wednesday on her way to a conference in Rome.
Libyan officials have accused Alamen of raping the Australian, although Bean denies the incident ever happened.
This morning, nobody from the Government was available for comment regarding the allegations and what action is now being taken to verify their authenticity.
During the interrogation on Wednesday, which lasted for four hours, Bean was reportedly asked to sign a document in Arabic, which it is said she refused to do as she did not understand it.
It is believed that the document was the testimony she had given during her interview by the Libyan authorities.
Her passport was then confiscated and she has been held in custody since.
Yesterday, a spokesman for Australia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr told The Australian newspaper that she would not receive direct assistance from her government until Saturday because nobody would be available until that time.
“In the meantime, if she needs assistance and more matters arise, someone from the British High Commission will be with her at all times,” the spokesman said.
Australia does not retain its own embassy in Libya but operates instead out of the British Embassy.
This morning, a British Embassy spokeswoman confirmed to the Libya Herald that they were providing Bean with consular assistance.
Bean has been in Libya since last May and is said to be well regarded locally.
She worked in Misrata at the height of last year’s revolution and has remained since that time. [/restrict]