Employees of the Russian Foundation for Protecting National Values had been held illegally for over a year (573 days) in the local Mitiga prison, controlled by the Salafist group RADA, subordinated to Fathi Bashagha, the Interior Minister of Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA).
Thus, diplomats at the highest level were forced to participate in the negotiation process for the release of prisoners. Russian authorities stated that the release of Russian citizens was one of the key conditions for Moscow’s interaction with the GNA. As Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova commented before, contacts on this issue have intensified.
The sociologists were conducting research in Libya and were arrested without warning in Tripoli in May 2019. Many media outlets reported that US intelligence agencies were involved in their arrest. The Tripoli authorities then accused them of “interference in Libya’s internal affairs,” even though Shugaley and Samer Sueifan had been doing their research legally.
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