Libyan Prime Minister Kidnapped, Freed Hours Later

In a somewhat bizarre incident, the Prime Minister of Libya was kidnapped only to be freed hours later:

(CNN) – Just hours after gunmen kidnapped Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan from a luxury hotel under the cover of darkness, he was released unharmed, a government official said.

“He’s in good shape, the prime minister, and going to his office,” said Nouri Abusahmain, president of the Libyan General National Congress. “He’s fine, he’s in good spirits.”

Gunmen captured Zeidan before dawn from the Corinthia Hotel in Tripoli and put him into a convoy of waiting cars, according to a hotel clerk who was not authorized to speak to the media.

The five-star hotel that Zeidan calls home is popular among government officials, some of whom reside there, including the justice minister.

The witness reported no gunfire during the incident, and said the gunmen were respectful and “caused no trouble.”

Zeidan’s office initially called the abduction a “rumor” on its official Facebook page, but later posted an update that it was “coerced by kidnappers to deny the report.”

His spokesman told CNN that the prime minister was kidnapped.

But the Operations Room of Libya’s Revolutionaries, the militia that took him, said it merely detained him over financial and administrative corruption charges.

However, the justice ministry said there was no arrest warrant for Zeidan, calling the move a kidnapping. Abusahmain said the government was not aware of the charges and the prime minister is prepared to answer any questions.

The militia works with the interior ministry — a not-altogether uncommon practice in Libya, which has tried to rein in the many militia groups unsuccessfully. Instead, various ministries have teamed up with them for their own needs, including providing security services.

If nothing else, this seems to be yet another indication of just how unstable things remain in post-Gadhafi Libya. Indeed, one wonders how the Prime Minister’s security could have been so bad as to allow this to happen in the first place.

Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.


  1. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    Indira Gandhi was unavailable for comment.

  2. al-Ameda says:

    Bear with me here: this is all related to Benghazi.

  3. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @al-Ameda: One story going around is that after the recent raids against terrorists in Libya, the Obama administration told how we’d gone into Libya with the Prime Minister’s permission. That ticked off certain groups, so they put the bag on him to give him a little reminder of what happens to people who cooperate with the US.

    I’m a little skeptical about that, though, because usually they just kill the guy who pissed them off and trust that his successor will get the message.