TRIPOLI – Libyan militias captured Muammar Gaddafi’s chief spokesman on Saturday, the government said, but an audio clip posted on Facebook purporting to be the voice of Moussa Ibrahimdenied his capture.
There was no independent verification of the authenticity or timing of the Facebook post, dated October 20, a year to the day after the dictator’s death.
A statement from the prime minister’s office said Ibrahim, who was the mouthpiece of the Gaddafi regime during last year’s war, was caught in the town of Tarhouna, 70 km (40 miles) south of Tripoli.
“He is being transferred to Tripoli to begin interrogation,” the statement said.
The government has previously made false claims regarding the capture of Gaddafi loyalists, and produced no photographs on Saturday showing Ibrahim in detention.
His whereabouts have been unknown since the fall of the capital in August 2011. The government claimed to have caught him last October but he called Reuters to deny the report.
Libya’s new rulers have led the nation to elections but have struggled to impose their authority on a country awash with weapons. Leader Mohammed Magarief said some areas of the country still needed to be fully “liberated”.
In the Facebook clip, a voice sounding like Ibrahim’s said: “I am addressing you a year after the martyrdom of the great leader and his free companions and the fall of the legitimate free nation of Libya under NATO’s bombings and their criminal allies.
“About the news of my arrest … and the spreading of this news in the media, this is just to divert attention from the crimes that are being committed by NATO allies.”
The voice on the recording said Ibrahim, who held regular press conferences in the luxury Tripoli hotel were journalists stayed during last year’s war, was no longer in Libya.
Former rebel fighters have maintained Gaddafi loyalists have used the town of Bani Walid, some 160 km (100 miles) south of Tripoli, as a safe haven, protected by the large Warfala tribe which has historically been loyal to Gaddafi’s tribe.
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