Libya: French Jewish writer Bernard-Henri Levy’s visit unwelcome Libya says Bernard-Henry Levy was ‘uninvited’
Controversial French Jewish intellectual Bernard-Henri Levy's trip to government-run Misrata city triggers uproar amid calls for investigation.
Libya’s Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha on Sunday denied reports of inviting controversial French Jewish intellectual Levy to visit Libya.
Libya’s government has disavowed a visit by French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy, a champion of the 2011 ouster of the longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi, whose standing has plummeted since the uprising.
“The government has not officially invited any journalist to visit Libya,” Bashagha said on Twitter.
He accused certain parties of fishing in troubled waters “to set political scores.”
“A visit by a journalist without an official invitation from the government has no political overtone and the public opinion has the absolute right to react to any public event,” the minister said.
Levy, unpopular in Arab world
Across Libya, the euphoria of the NATO-backed rebellion has long since faded as fighting has raged on between feuding militias.
Levy flew into Libya’s government-run third city Misrata in a private jet on Saturday, airport sources said.
Levy enjoys celebrity status in France, but he is unpopular in the Arab world because of his staunch support for Israel.
Levy says arrived ‘as journalist’
He told pro-government TV channel Libya Al Ahrar that he had travelled to the country as a journalist to write a piece for the Wall Street Journal.
Levy said he planned to visit the town of Tarhuna, where government forces uncovered a mass grave they say contains executed civilians bodies.
Fighters loyal to the government said they had prevented Levy from entering Tarhuna on Saturday.
But in tweets accompanying photographs of himself flanked by masked gunmen in military uniforms.”
“Just after my reportage on the killing fields. These are the true Libyan police who protect free press. So different from the thugs who tried to block my convoy on my way back to Misrata,” he wrote in a caption.
He said a full account of what happened would be published soon.
A programme published by Libyan media showed that Levy planned to visit the capital Tripoli on Sunday for talks with Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha.
But the office of Fayez al Sarraj denied “any connection” to Levy’s visit and said it had opened an inquiry to establish how it had come about and to take “deterrent measures” against its organisers.
Khalid al Mishri, chairman of the Libyan High Council of State, said he was surprised by Levy’s visit to the city of Misrata, and called for an investigation to determine the authority that invited him into Libya.
Libya’s envoy to France Hamed el Houderi denied issuing a visa for the Jewish writer.
Libya has been torn by civil war since the ouster of late ruler Gaddafi in 2011.