Jordan’s ambassador in Libya, who was abducted last month, has been released by his captors and is on his way home, the kingdom’s foreign minister said on Tuesday.
Ambassador Fawaz al-Etan was taken by gunmen from his vehicle in central Tripoli near the Jordanian Embassy on April 15. Assailants opened fire on his car, wounded his driver and then forced him out at gunpoint.
It was one of the latest abductions in the North African nation still plagued by lawlessness more than two years since the country’s eight-month civil war ended with Muammar Gaddafi’s killing in October 2011.
Jordan’s Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh gave no other details in announcing al-Etan’s release. The kingdom’s Information Minister Mohammad al-Momani told The Associated Press that al-Etan was in good health and was returning home on a military plane.
A week after the ambassador’s abduction, Jordan released a Libyan detainee, Mohammed al-Darsi, and transferred him to Libya. Al-Darsi was arrested and convicted in 2007 of trying to carry out a suicide bombing at Amman’s Queen Alia International Airport.
Jordanian officials at the time would not say whether the Libyan detainee’s release was connected to al-Etan’s abduction.
AFP reported that al-Darsi was indeed freed in exchange for the release of Jordan’s ambassador to Libya.
“Last week, Mohammed Saeed al-Darsi was handed over to Libyan authorities in accordance with an agreement” with the Libyan side, Jordan’s minister for parliamentary affairs, Khaled al-Kalaldah, told AFP in reference to the deal that secured the release of ambassador al-Etan.
The kidnappings in Libya reflect the weakness of the country’s politicians and officials in the face of powerful militias that have become both the enforcers of the law and the fuel of lawlessness after successive governments following Gadhafi’s ouster came to depend on them to restore order in the absence of a strong police force or military.
Both diplomats and journalists have been among those targeted in the kidnappings. In January, gunmen briefly held six Egyptian diplomats and embassy employees following the arrest of a Libyan militia leader in Egypt. The diplomats were released only after Egypt freed the detained militia commander.
Most of the abductions, however, have targeted Libyan officials, including senior members of the government, and their families.