Free at last! The Tripoli Six are on their way home

Fabulous news: the Palestinian and Bulgarian health care workers who were falsely accused by the Libyan government of infecting children with AIDS, who were sentenced to death, and who had their sentence then commuted to life in prison, have been given a pardon and released. They are currently in Bulgaria, out of prison, and safe. The various governments involved say no money changed hands, but that a deal was worked out for release in return for closer ties to the EU, whatever that means.


  1. Fernando Magyar says

    Great news! Nobody had to bomb anyone? Hmm, maybe there is some hope for humanity yet.

  2. says

    (cutting and pasting from another thread;)

    I am happy for the Tripoli 6, of course and I am sure that they are happily deocmpressing from an awful experience. But I can’t shake the feeling that this was Libya’s intent from the start. They get more attention from the EU, the parents get money but these people are still guilty in the eyes of the Libyan Courts. I believe that they were used as leverage, human hostages to be traded for political gain.

    Of course, it’s nothing new. It is just another illustration of how far we have yet to go towards achieving any sort of status as a civilized species.

  3. says

    If I understand correctly, they commuted the Six’s sentence to life for the 1.0 million. Improving Libya’s standing with the EU was the reason they released the hostages.

    Okay, maybe they weren’t hostages, but that’s the feeling I get. I have to wonder how long the EU talks with Libya have been going on, and if Libya intimated they might release the Six if Libya was given better relations with the EU.

  4. says

    It could be argued that it was the non-release of the Six that kept the EU from creating closer ties to Libya. No matter the reason, Bulgaria has said that if it hadn’t been for the country’s membership of the EU (and teh support of the otehr EU countries) the Six had never gotten out.

    One thing that’s worth noticing, is that Bulgaria gave the Palestinian doctor a Bulgarian citizenship last month, so they could ask for all six to serve the rest of their sentences in Bulgaria, thus enabling the Bulgarian president to pardon them all.

  5. Peterte says

    The ends justify the means. Libya is keen to normalize
    Closer ties with Libya is fine with me, we aren’t going to
    improve the stability of the world by ignoring problem
    regimes. It’s a lot harder to demonize/attack people you
    have contact and trade with – the whole founding point of the

  6. Willy says

    #5 Berlzebub:
    That’s $1.0Million per child, 438 children (according to the BBC article.) If it actually goes to the citizens, I’m OK with that.

    #4 Mike:
    Never make the mistake of thinking we’re anything near a civilized species. A species which is highly adaptive with a complex social structure? Yes. Civilized? Nowhere in history is there evidence of that.

  7. Richard Harris, FCD says

    I feel sorry for these people – eight wasted years, & a heck of a lot of stress. Who knows what the health costs are for them? And they were trying to do good!

    I wish the sons of bitches responsible for their plight could be brought to justice.

  8. Ian H Spedding FCD says

    Great news! Maybe peaceful international pressure and disapproval had an effect after all.

  9. CL says

    As Sarkozy said in his inaugural, “La France sera aux côtés des infirmières libyennes enfermées depuis huit ans.”

    And just months later, they were freed with his wife at their side. Fantastic news all around.

  10. raven says

    Think anyone will be volunteering to help Libya with their rudimentary, backward health care system soon? No one sane and smart will risk it. Clearly they have problems with basic blood borne infection control and sterility in their medical system. This is simple, elementary stuff. And if they are spreading HIV, they are spreading hepatitis B and C and lots of other pathogens.

    Libya seems to be stuck in the dark ages. They had intentions to develop nuclear weapons at one time. They had plans for weapons designs from the Chinese and Pakistanis and lots of oil money. After all that, they still couldn’t follow the dots and connect up the parts right to make a device invented 60 years ago.

    Not that anyone is complaining, mind you.

  11. says


    I am happy for the 6, outraged for the children. The 6 were hostages, the children pawns. Qaddafi knows no one deliberately infected them. I also can’t help but believe this was one big extortion racket. I know people who fled Libya. Closer ties between the EU and Libya? Mu’ammar al-Qaddafi hasn’t changed.

    Benita Ferrero-Waldner is a hero for her role in this.

  12. says

    Willy @ #9:

    #5 Berlzebub:
    That’s $1.0Million per child, 438 children (according to the BBC article.) If it actually goes to the citizens, I’m OK with that.

    Sorry, but yes, it was 1 million per child. But there’s another interesting tidbit. It was 438 million “plus some on top”, paid to the Gaddafi Foundation, which is ran by Gaddafi’s son.

    Still, these parts give me hope.

    The EU’s External Affairs Commissioner, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, made many trips to Libya, meeting the prisoners and working to improve conditions for children infected with HIV/Aids.


    European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said the EU could now begin to normalise trade and political ties with Libya.

    The European market could now be opened to Libyan farm and fishery produce, and there could be co-operation in archaeology, education, and healthcare for the Libyan children infected with HIV.
    (Emphasis mine)

    Hopefully, this will help Libya learn about germ theory, instead of finding scapegoats. However, I’m concerned about how this will affect medical people who were considering going abroad to help those without good healthcare. There are quite a few countries who have this sort of view on healthcare and foreigners.

  13. says

    Think anyone will be volunteering to help Libya with their rudimentary, backward health care system soon? No one sane and smart will risk it.

    That’s exactly the problem–they extorted some money in the short term (that I would be surprised to see the children get more than a drab), but they crippled their prospects of any further health for the foreseeable future.

    I’m very happy the Six are finally free, and very sorry about their wasted years, about their undergoing torture, and also about the Libyans who still need health care, and won’t get it after this.

  14. says

    First, great news indeed. The most important thing is that these well-meaning aid workers are finally free and safe in their home country. Second, it’s really annoying that the Libyan government used them as political and economic bargaining chips, just when the country is starting to return to the civilized world. It’s rank extortion, and while the situation did not end in violence, it showed that the EU can be blackmailed by malicious states.

  15. hipparchia says

    Yesterday was an emotional morning in Bulgaria, even an unknown person stopped to talk to me about the events. Half my newspaper was devoted to freeing the nurses.

    The last couple of weeks were a time of tension, with more and more demands raining in from Tripoli, more and more frivolous.

    The only question I still have- years ago there was still talk of ransom. Yet it was refused, since this would mean admitting guilt. Now it seems this is less of a concern and finally we have a result.