NATO chief urges Libya to release Australian lawyer

Prime Minister Julia Gillard and NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at Parliament House.NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has joined Australia in calling on Libya to release lawyer Melinda Taylor.
Nanjing Night Net

Ms Taylor, a lawyer with the International Criminal Court, was detained last week along with colleagues.

The Australian is accused of exchanging papers with Muammar Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, whom she is representing.

The papers allegedly included a coded message from his former right-hand man in the days of his father’s regime, Mohammed Ismail.

Mr Rasmussen, in Canberra for talks with Prime Minister Julia Gillard and other key ministers, said today he regretted Ms Taylor’s detention.

”I strongly regret that certain groups in Libya have arrested … representatives of the ICC,” he said. ”And I would urge them to release these individuals as soon as possible.”

Australia’s ambassador-designate to Libya, David Ritchie, is lobbying for Ms Taylor’s release. The Australian government, as well as Ms Taylor’s parents, have been calling for the 36-year old lawyer to be set free.

Mr Rasmussen’s comments come as Australia and NATO signed a political declaration to recognise and strengthen their security ties.

NATO nations’ forces are co-operating with Australia’s 1550 troops in Afghanistan.

Mr Rasmussen said Australia was a ”very valuable” NATO partner.

He said Afghanistan might seem like a long way from Australia but ”security can start far from home”.

”A conflict thousands of miles away can have a direct impact on our lives,” he said. ”We are on the same side when it comes to values.”

Ms Gillard said she and Mr Rasmussen had discussed the international transition out of Afghanistan.

”We’ve agreed the transition is on track for completion by the end of 2014,” she said.

Defence said today an Australian soldier had been wounded when a Bushmaster struck an improvised explosive device in Oruzgan province on Tuesday.

The soldier’s wounds were superficial. He is reported to be in a satisfactory condition and is expected to return to duties soon.

According to Defence, 227 ADF members have been wounded in Afghanistan. Thirty-two soldiers have been killed.

With AAP

Follow theNational Times on Twitter: @NationalTimesAU

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