AFP at ExPatica France May 17,2011
A French diplomat has met with four Frenchmen who were arrested in the Libyan rebel city of Benghazi and accused of spying for strongman Moamer Kadhafi, the French government said on Tuesday.
Paris’s envoy, Antoine Sivan, approached the National Transitional Council (NTC), the rebels’ leadership, and was allowed to meet the four on Saturday, French foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero told reporters.
A fifth Frenchman, ex-paratrooper Pierre Marziali, was shot dead when the rebels who control Benghazi arrested the five on Friday.
Marziali was the founder of a private security firm that had opened an office in Benghazi and his four companions were also working for the firm.
The rebels said the five were not private security contractors but were in Benghazi to sabotage the anti-Kadhafi revolution.
The NTC “authorities are investigating to establish the circumstances of what happened,” Valero said. “They promised our ambassador they will keep us informed of the results.”
ExPatica.com May 14, 2011
Libyan rebels said Friday that a French ex-paratrooper they shot dead and his four compatriots were not private security contractors but were in Benghazi to sabotage the anti-Kadhafi revolution.
“On the evening of 11 May, local security forces in Benghazi were instructed to arrest a group of five Frenchmen for illicit activities that jeopardised the security of Free Libya,” the rebel National Transitional Council (NTC) said.
“Regrettably, one of the suspects was accidentally shot after resisting arrest,” it said in a statement, which did not provide details of the men’s alleged activities but said a formal investigation was under way.
The probe will look into whether the men were “spies hired by the Kadhafi regime,” a rebel spokesman told AFP.
The accusations came a day before French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the rebel’s staunchest ally on the world stage, was due to meet a top NTC leader in Paris.
The dead man has been identified as Pierre Marziali, the 47-year-old founder of French private security firm Secopex. The four detained men also worked for the firm which had opened an office in a villa in a wealthy suburb of Benghazi.
The firm said it had been prospecting for security work in Benghazi, the capital of the rebel-held east of Libya, and had been in contact with the NTC.
One of its executives told a French newspaper he had recently been in Tripoli where he had turned down an offer to work for the regime of Moamer Kadhafi.
Robert Dulas insisted the company had been open with the rebels about that visit.
“It was the Tripoli regime that called us, but we declined their requests except for the possibility of working on improving their communications,” he told Liberation daily.
The rebel statement came after European diplomatic sources in Benghazi said the men may have been spies for the Kadhafi regime.
The French government said in a terse statement Thursday only that five French nationals were detained after an encounter with a police unit and one “was wounded by a bullet and died overnight in a hospital.”