Jordan's ambassador, freed in Libya, returns home
By OMAR AKOUR | The Associated Press | Published: May 13, 2014
AMMAN, Jordan — Jordan's ambassador to Libya who was abducted last month at gunpoint in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, returned home on Tuesday after being freed by his captors.
Ambassador Fawaz al-Etan was welcomed at Amman's military airport by jubilant family members who hugged and kissed him and top Jordanian officials, including Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh who hours earlier announced the diplomat's release.
Al-Etan waved to reporters as he stepped out of the plane at the Marka military airfield east of Amman.
He said he was in good health, ready and eager to return to his post in Libya, and that his captors had treated him well. He gave no further details about his ordeal and captivity.
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 the latest high-profile abduction in the North African nation still plagued by lawlessness, more than two years since the country's 8-month civil war ended with Moammar Gadhafi's killing in October 2011.
A week after the ambassador's abduction, Jordan released a Libyan detainee, Mohammed al-Darsi, who 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. But Libyan media reported at the time that Jordan had agreed to set free a convicted militant in exchange for the ambassador.
According to a Libyan official, al-Darsi arrived in Tripoli on Monday on a special plane from Amman.
The same Jordanian aircraft took the ambassador home on Tuesday, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to media.
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.
Associated Press writer Esam Mohamed in Tripoli, Libya, contributed to this report.