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Letter: Russians Accused of Espionage Sought to Meddle in Libya Vote

Letter: Russians Accused of Espionage Sought to Meddle in Libya Vote

Saturday, 6 June, 2020 - 06:30
Fighters loyal to Libya's GNA celebrate after regaining control over Tarhouna city, Libya, June 5, 2020. REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny

Libya is pushing ahead with the prosecution of two Russians it accuses of espionage and attempting to meddle in future elections, defying pressure from Moscow for their release, according to a senior Libyan official.

In the most detailed account of their allegations to emerge to date, prosecutors said in a letter to the Libyan Foreign Ministry that the two were working for Kremlin ally Yevgeny Prigozhin as part of a plan that also included helping Russia to secure a military base in Libya, or failing that, to prevent the US from obtaining one.

The official showed the letter, dated May 20, to Bloomberg a day after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the continued jailing of the men was the “main obstacle” to improving relations with Moscow.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Government of National Accord will proceed with the prosecution despite the Russian pressure.

The Russian citizens, Maxim Shugaley and Samir Seifan, were arrested in the Libyan capital Tripoli in May 2019 and have been held in jail there since.

A lawyer for the men declined to comment.

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