CAIRO — Jordan's ambassador to Libya was released Tuesday after being detained by his kidnappers for close to a month.
The small crowd of Jordanian officials and family members clapped to celebrate the return of kidnapped diplomat Fawaz al-Itan at Amman's military airport, after what he described as a “difficult” four week detention in Libya.
Despite the ordeal, al-Itan spoke with journalists before leaving the airport.
He says that the deal was concluded between various Jordanian and Libyan intermediaries and the conflict was solve peacefully, honorably and in a civilized manner. But, he joked, the ordeal was still a kidnapping.
Al-Itan went on to minimized his detention, insisting that it was an “isolated” event and there are no major conflicts between Jordan and Libya. He explained that he was being held by the family of a Libyan detained in Jordan.
Mohammed al-Darsi, a Libyan national held in Jordan since 2007, was reportedly released late last week as part of the bargain to free Ambassador al Itan. Darsi had been held by Jordan over a plot to bomb the country's main airport.
Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser al-Judeh told a news conference that no “deal” was made to release Ambassador al Itan.
He says Jordan worked with the Libyan government to achieve the release. He says Jordan handed over its prisoner (Mohammed al-Darsi) in accordance with the Riyadh Convention, in which prisoners are allowed to finish sentences in their home countries.
A number of Egyptian and Tunisian diplomats have been kidnapped in Libya in recent months. Egypt reportedly traded a Libyan militia commander it was holding to secure the release of its diplomats. A Tunisian diplomat recently pleaded with his country to secure his freedom, as he broke down in tears, during a video released by his captors.