Libya rejects US prisoner plea

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The Independent Online

Libya has rejected US pleas to release dissidents, made during a historic visit by the US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice.

Ms Rice, the most senior US official to visit Libya in 50 years, left for Tunisia yesterday after meeting the Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, to demonstrate that Washington "has no permanent enemies".

She said sensitive issues had not been skipped in the talks and that she had asked for the dissident Fathi al-Jahmi to be released from solitary detention. He is being held pending trial on charges, including meeting US diplomats, that carry the death penalty.

In a "respectful way", Ms Rice said, she had also raised the case of another dissident who was arrested after trying to hold a public demonstration in Tripoli. But Libya's Foreign Minister, Abdel Rahman Shalgam, said Tripoli would not give way.