Libya knew about helicopter rescue plans, say ministers (update)

The Dutch government suspects the Libyan authorities were probably aware of the plan to rescue a Dutch and a Swedish national from Libya on February 27, according to an official briefing given to MPs.

In the briefing document, defence minister Hans Hillen and foreign minister Uri Rosenthal say they believe the Libyan authorities knew about the rescue, but do not know how they found out about it.
The helicopter was surrounded by armed men immediately it landed on the beach at the Libyan port of Sirte and the first crew members had stepped out, the note states.

The three-strong crew were held until March 11 following diplomatic pressure, but the two evacuees were sent home almost immediately.
The briefing also shows the cabinet believes it had to carry out the rescue with the Lynx helicopter because the situation in Libya was deteriorating.
The note also states there were two other failed efforts to pick up Dutch nationals before the Sirte mission.
MPs have already criticised the briefing, saying it fails to explain the urgency of action taking.
The Dutch national who was being picked up was not in danger and could have travelled out with a Bosnian flight, Labour MP Frans Timmermans told a television show. ‘These sort of risks should not have been taken,’ he said.
D66 leader Alexander Pechtold said there is no good explanation why the Swedish woman ended up with the group. She had apparently heard about the helicopter trip from her son who worked at the Swedish foreign affairs ministry, Pechtold said.
MPs will debate the briefing with ministers next week.

Thank you for donating to

We could not provide the Dutch News service, and keep it free of charge, without the generous support of our readers. Your donations allow us to report on issues you tell us matter, and provide you with a summary of the most important Dutch news each day.

Make a donation