Last updated: 30 September, 2012

Australian aid worker “free to leave Libya”

Australia said Sunday it had secured free passage from Libya for an aid worker stopped from leaving the country reportedly over a sexual assault probe involving a Libyan official.

Australian national Alexandra Bean, an employee of the International Organisation for Migration, had her passport confiscated and was blocked from leaving Libya after being questioned by police.

According to her family Bean had refused to sign a statement in Arabic after her police interview, reportedly linked to a sexual assault investigation involving a senior health official.

Bean has been described as a witness in the case and Australian officials have stressed that she has done nothing wrong.

Foreign Minister Bob Carr had earlier urged Libya to allow her to leave the country and said diplomats had been able to secure permission from the Libyan government for her to depart.

“Her passport has been given to her, and our staff will be with her until she boards the plane,” Carr told Australian television, adding that Bean was now waiting for a flight home.

“So that’s a happy outcome, and I thank the government of Libya.”

Australia’s foreign office said British consular staff had helped in negotiations.

“Following another meeting with the Libyan authorities on the afternoon of 29 September, Bean is now free to leave Libya,” a foreign office spokeswoman told AFP.

Bean’s family had asked Australia to urgently intervene in her case, fearful of “uncertainty” following the death of the US ambassador and three other Americans in violent protests earlier this month against an anti-Islam film.

The foreign office spokeswoman said Australia would “continue to provide Bean full consular assistance and support until she departs Libya”.

An Australian lawyer working for the International Criminal Court was detained in Libya for three weeks earlier this year after visiting a son of former dictator Moamer Kadhafi in the town of Zintan, southwest of Tripoli.