AMMAN: Jordan’s ambassador to Libya was freed and flown home yesterday, a month after being kidnapped, in an exchange for a Libyan jihadist jailed in Jordan for plotting bomb attacks.
A Jordanian minister said that ambassador Fawaz Aitan had been released, and that the jihadist would serve out the rest of his life prison sentence in his homeland under an extradition agreement ratified on Thursday.
But the brother of jihadist Mohammad Saeed Al Darsi said that he was free and with his family following his return to Tripoli.
A plane carrying the freed ambassador arrived at Marka military airport in Amman, and was greeted by relatives and officials led by Prince Faisal bin Hussein, the brother of King Abdullah II.
“They (the kidnappers) treated me in a civilised and humane manner,” Aitan told reporters, looking healthy but tired.
Masked gunmen kidnapped the ambassador in mid-April as he was being driven to work in Tripoli. They shot his car and wounded his driver.
There was no claim of responsibility, but Libyan sources said the abductors had demanded the release of Darsi, a Libyan convicted of terrorism offences in Jordan in 2007 and sentenced to life imprisonment.
He was found guilty of possessing explosives and plotting to bomb Amman’s international airport.
Aitan said his abductors were relatives of Darsi.
The envoy was handed over to the Jordanian authorities in Libya at 0300 GMT, Jordanian Parliamentary Affairs Minister Khaled Al Kalaldah said.
“Last week Darsi was handed over to Libyan authorities in line with the (extradition) agreement so that he will spend the rest of his sentence in Libyan jails,” said Kalaldah.
Libya’s foreign ministry confirmed Darsi’s release, but the justice ministry declined to comment on the terms of his handover by Jordan.
Ahmad Darsi said that his brother was “free” to move about as he wished.
“He arrived safely in Tripoli. He is with his own people. He is due to return to Benghazi,” in the east, the brother said.
Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh told an Amman press conference: “We lived a nightmare for four weeks but thank God, the ambassador has returned to his family... and his loved ones”.
He said that the kidnappers were “related to the Libyan prisoner, Darsi”.