Libyan PM Ali Zeidan 'freed' after abduction by militants
Group called Libya's Revolutionaries say PM was seized after being charged with 'corruption'
LIBYA'S Prime Minister Ali Zeidan has reportedly been freed after he was abducted from a hotel in Tripoli this morning by former rebels who fought to depose Colonel Gaddafi, the New York Times reports.
The paper notes that the incident follows criticism of Zeidan's transitional government for allowing US commandos to seize al-Qaeda suspect Anas al-Libi outside his home in Tripoli last Saturday. Senior US officials have said that the Libyan government "tacitly approved" the raid.
Zeidan was taken captive this morning at the five-star Corinthia Hotel where he lives. Video broadcast by the Al-Arabiya TV station showed the PM looking "dishevelled" and being escorted from the building by what the station said were armed men.
A witness told CNN that no shots were fired during the incident and the gunmen were respectful and "caused no trouble". Zeidan was driven away in a convoy of waiting cars, but his current whereabouts are not known.
A spokesman for Libya's Revolutionaries, the militia group claiming to have seized Zeidan, said it was detaining the PM because he has been charged with financial and administrative corruption.
CNN says the revolutionaries often work with Libya's interior ministry. The practice is "not altogether uncommon" in Libya, which has tried unsuccessfully to rein in the many militia groups now operating in the country. Instead, "various ministries have co-opted them for their own needs, including providing security services," CNN says.
Libya's justice ministry said there was no arrest warrant for Zeidan and called the move a kidnapping.
The impunity with which armed militants were able to abduct the PM highlights the fact that militia have "run rampant" since Gaddafi was ousted two years ago. Armed with weapons left over from the revolution, they are particularly strong in the east of the country where they are demanding more autonomy from the government, CNN says.
Human Rights Watch says attempts to introduce security and justice to Libya have been thwarted by the fact that armed militia have "the upper hand". "They have various agendas - financial, territorial, political, religious - and operate with impunity two years after the Gaddafi regime ended," the organisation says. "Successive interim governments have failed to assert control over these militias, preferring to contract them as parallel forces to the army and police." ·