Libyan authorities release imprisoned Copts

Egypt's Assistant Foreign Minister for Consular Affairs, Ali el-Asheery, said on Tuesday the Libyan authorities have released Coptic citizens detained in Libya. Twenty of these citizens will continue their work in Benghazi.

"Four Copts accused of proselytising are still subject to investigations," Asheery added. During his speech in front of the Shura Council's committees of Human Rights and Arab and Foreign Affairs, he noted, "Egypt's consul to Libya meets with the four Coptic defendants accused of proselytizing on a daily basis to check on their conditions."

He said the Egyptian detainees have not complained of mistreatment from the Libyan authorities, stressing the conditions of imprisonment were normal. The Egyptian side, however, has monitored the mistreatment carried out by the Libyan militias in attempts to extort Egyptians financially.

He noted the attack on the Italian Church and its priest and blamed the current exceptional conditions for such incidents. He added the Libyan prime minister and his foreign minister submitted an apology after the attacks targeting Egyptian churches in Misrata and Benghazi.

"A number of issues have been discussed with the Libyan prime minister during his recent visit to Egypt, including the violations committed against the Egyptians in Libya. The Libyan side was keen to hear from the Egyptian side, expressing its readiness to find serious solutions for such problems," he explained. He noted they would form a common committee to discuss a number of issues, including the repeated discriminatory incidents.

Underlining the violations committed against the Egyptian citizens in Libya, a number of Coptic activists stressed during the meeting there is a need to protect the dignity of Egyptians abroad.

Chairperson of the Human Rights Committee related to Egypt's Shura Council, Dr Ehab el-Kharat, raised the necessity of moving on different levels to save those people suffering from torture in Libyan territories. He stressed the need for drafting legislation that allows Egyptian authorities to appoint Egyptian lawyers to defend Egyptian prisoners abroad and to be in contact with them.

Parliamentarian Reda el-Hefnawy, member of the Human Rights Committee, criticized the performance of Egypt's Foreign Ministry, saying, "I hope the Foreign Ministry will finish its slow and soft steps in managing the crises."

He expressed his refusal of the speech delivered by the Egyptian foreign minister about waiting until a decision was issued regarding the accusations against the Copts to take serious steps in this regard.