A diplomatic thriller took place last night in Libya when a Greek C-130 was dispatched to pick up three Dutch marines but the Libyan government was trying to make a bargain and press the Maltese government to represent Gaddafi’s interests in the European union. The Dutch marines, two men and one woman, were arrested nearly two weeks ago, when they landed a helicopter near the port of Sirte to evacuate two Dutch citizens from Libya. A agreement about their release was achieved yesterday at the meeting between Greek deputy Foreign Ministry Dimitis Dollis and Gaddafi’s envoy Mohamed Tahir Siala in Athens.
As much as I read in here, last night’s negotiations were carried by Saif Gaddafi. The Libyan regime was allegedly reacting to the refusal of the government of Malta to help the Libyans negotiate with the European union.
The Greek C-130 with Deputy FM D. Dollis on board, took off at 07:30 pm from the military airport of Elefsina bound for Tripolis. At the same time two AWACS spy planes took off from Italy to support the operation and monitor the progress. An American aircraft RC-135W, which also performs intelligence spy flights, took off form the military base of Souda on Crete as well.
The Dutch Marines were taken prisoner on February 27. They had deployed in a Lynx helicopter from the HMS Tromp, anchored off the Libyan coast. After their capture, a report on Libyan state television stated that the crew was in a fighter helicopter rather than one used for transportation or rescue. It claimed the aircraft had not permission from Libyan authorities to enter the country, a violation of international law
Nevertheless after hours of nerves grating negotiations the Libyans allowed the Dutch marines to go on the aircraft. It landed at 5:30 am at Eleftherios Venizelos airport in Athens also with 12 Greek evacuees. All are safe and well.
Pictures released by the Greek Foreign Ministry here