3rd Feb 2023

EU justifies taking Libyan defector off sanctions list

  • Koussa, last seen being hosted by the Qatari royal family in Doha (Photo: Greek Prime Minister's office)

The EU has said it was right to take former Libyan foreign minister Moussa Koussa off a sanctions list because he had defected to the anti-Gaddafi side.

A spokesman for EU foreign relations chief Catherine Ashton told EUobserver on Friday (15 April) "it was felt that he no longer fulfilled the criteria for sanctions after defecting." Asked if the purpose of the sanctions was to punish people for wrongdoing or to alter the behaviour of Gaddafi loyalists, he added "It was to put pressure on the regime primarily."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

A spokesman for the British foreign ministry told UK press on Thursday: "Sanctions are introduced to invoke behavioural change and as Moussa Koussa has chosen to leave the regime, he is no longer sanctioned in this way."

Jutsifying its decision to absolve Koussa from US punitive measures last week, treasury official David S. Cohen wrote in his blog: "Koussa's defection and the subsequent lifting of sanctions against him should encourage others within the Libyan government to make similar decisions to abandon the Gaddafi regime."

The EU decision was made unanimously at ambassador-level last Thursday.

Foreign ministers rubber stamped the move without debate or public remarks at a meeting in Luxembourg on Tuesday. Koussa became legally able to once again travel inside the Union and take money from any bank accounts he has in Europe from Thursday morning onward.

Koussa was on Thursday in Doha to talk with leaders of the anti-Gaddafi rebellion. It is unclear if he will return to the UK, where he risks prosecution for his alleged part in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing.

Speaking on the BBC panel show Question Time on Thursday night, leading Scottish politician Alex Salmond said: "If there was any evidence [on Lockerbie] I have absolutely no doubt he'd have been arrested and transported back to Scotland."

Salmond two years ago drew criticism for his part in freeing convicted Lockerbie bomber and Gaddafi ally Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi in a suspected oil-for-prisoners deal.

For his part, Tory MP Robert Halfon on Thursday said Koussa should have been sent to face charges of crimes against humanity at the international court in the Hague.

The original EU sanctions notice said he was on the list because he was "Implicated in repressive actions against demonstrators" amid suspicion that he co-plotted with Gaddafi to systematically kill civilians. The former intelligence chief and Gaddafi right-hand-man earned himself the name 'merchant of death' during his career in Libya.

A contact in the PR industry last week told EUobserver Koussa was seeking to hire a PR firm in Europe to improve his image.


Europe is giving more aid to Ukraine than you think

'Europeans need to pull their weight in Ukraine. They should pony up more funds.' Such has been the chorus since the start of the war. The problem is the argument isn't borne out by the facts, at least not anymore.


Democracy — is it in crisis or renaissance?

Countries that were once democratising are now moving in the other direction — think of Turkey, Myanmar, Hungary or Tunisia. On the other hand, in autocracies mass mobilisation rarely succeeds in changing political institutions. Think of Belarus, Iran or Algeria.

Latest News

  1. MEPs launch anonymous drop-box for shady lobbying secrets
  2. Hawkish ECB rate-rise 'puts energy transition at risk'
  3. MEPs push for greater powers for workers' councils
  4. How Pavel won big as new Czech president — and why it matters
  5. French official to take on Islamophobia in EU
  6. EU green industry plan could spark 'dangerous subsidy race'
  7. Wolves should be defended, EU ministers urge
  8. EU Commission wants drones for Bulgaria on Turkey border

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Party of the European LeftJOB ALERT - Seeking a Communications Manager (FT) for our Brussels office!
  2. European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual & Reproductive Rights (EPF)Launch of the EPF Contraception Policy Atlas Europe 2023. 8th February. Register now.
  3. Europan Patent OfficeHydrogen patents for a clean energy future: A global trend analysis of innovation along hydrogen value chains
  4. Forum EuropeConnecting the World from the Skies calls for global cooperation in NTN rollout
  5. EFBWWCouncil issues disappointing position ignoring the threats posed by asbestos
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersLarge Nordic youth delegation at COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us