WASHINGTON - The United States sought to dispel lingering questions Wednesday over its capture of an Al-Qaeda suspect on Libyan soil, defending the move as complying with international law.
WASHINGTON – The United States sought to dispel lingering questions Wednesday over its capture of an Al-Qaeda suspect on Libyan soil, defending the move as complying with international law.
US commandos on Saturday seized senior Al-Qaeda figure Abu Anas al-Libi — indicted for the twin 1998 bombings of US embassies in east Africa — off the streets of Tripoli as he was parking his car and whisked him away to a warship.
Libya has denounced the operation as a kidnapping and summoned US Ambassador Deborah Jones to give an explanation of the events.
Washington has already pointed to a 2001 US bill, adopted in the wake of the September 11 attacks, as allowing the capture of Libi under US domestic law.
But State Department deputy spokesman Marie Harf told reporters that President Barack Obama’s administration has also acted in accordance with “the international laws of war, the fact that we have an ability, under international law, to self-defend.”
Shortly after announcing Libi’s capture, the Pentagon also said that it had acted in accordance with the laws of war.
Harf insisted that Libi, who is believed to be held and interrogated on a US Navy warship in the Mediterranean, was being humanely treated in line with both US law and the Geneva Conventions.
According to the conventions, Libi “may not be subjected to torture, violence or cruel, humiliating or degrading treatment; that if he becomes sick, he should be cared for,” Harf said.
“And al-Libi is being treated in accordance with both of these requirements.”
Washington was also in talks with the Libyan government about providing consular access to Libi.
Obama told reporters Tuesday that Libi — a computer expert — “planned and helped to execute a plot that killed hundreds of people, a whole lot of Americans.”
“We have strong evidence of that. And he will be brought to justice,” the president said.
But it remained unclear when Libi would be brought to America, and where he would face trial, although the indictment was issued in a New York federal court.
Amnesty International has accused the United States of violating fundamental human rights by abducting Libi, and called on the Obama administration to confirm his whereabouts and provide him access to legal counsel.