Tripoli, 1 October:
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hussain Amir Abdullah has called the continued detention of seven Iranian Red Crescent workers in . . .[restrict]Benghazi unacceptable. Libya was responsible for their safety, he said, claiming that the Libyan authorities were not doing enough to free them. He indicated that Iran might bring the issue to the UN Security Council.
The head of Iran’s Red Crescent, Aboulhassan Faqih, has also said that Iran is now looking to the UN to pursue the case. On Saturday, he said he had held negotiations with the UN Undersecretary-General on the issue.
The seven were kidnapped in Benghazi on 31 July while visiting the city at the invitation of the Libyan Red Crescent. They were seized on their way back from the Red Crescent’s headquarters to the Tibesti hotel where they were staying. The Libyan authorities say they have no information about who is holding them, or where. It is rumoured, however, that some members of the security forces in the city are fully informed on both matters.
Shortly after the seizure, sources claiming to be connected to the abductors, believed to be Salafists, said that the seven would be freed once it was established that they were not in Libya to proselytize for Shiism.
Two weeks ago, the Iranian parliament set up a committee to pursue the case of the seven as well as of 48 Iranian pilgrims kidnapped in Syria on 4 August.
In August, following a visit to Tripoli by Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hassan Qashqavi, Libya set up a committee to work for the hostages’ release. Last week, Libyan Foreign Minister Ashour Ben Khayal met with his Iranian counterpart, Ali Akbar Salehi, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting in New York to discuss the matter.