Israeli held in Libya released after five months

By Jennifer Lipman, August 9, 2010

The Israeli Foreign Ministry has confirmed that an Israeli man imprisoned in Libya for photographing Jewish sites has been freed and is to return home to Tel Aviv.

In a secret deal arranged by Avigdor Lieberman, Rafael Rafram Haddad has been flown to safety in Vienna after five months in captivity.

Israeli officials said they had allowed some Libyan supplies into the Gaza Strip in order to secure Mr Haddad’s release.

The Israeli-Tunisian photographer was arrested in March, a day after emailing that he was planning to visit Tripoli’s Jewish quarter.

But he was not on his flight to the North African country and it transpired that he had been detained by Libyan authorities.

Although Israeli nationals cannot travel to Libya, Mr Haddad was using his Tunisian passport at the time.

A spokesman for the foreign ministry added: “We worked for a long time to have him freed, along with other international bodies, and we thank all involved for their help.”

According to the Jerusalem Post newspaper, Mr Lieberman said: “The redemption of captives is a big mitzvah.

“I’m happy I was able to contribute my part to winning his freedom.”

Home to more than 20,000 Jews before the Holocaust, Libya is now not believed to have any Jewish population.

Last updated: 3:23pm, February 23 2011