April 9, 2011 / 3:50 PM / 9 years ago

Libya opposition asks US Treasury for Gaddafi assets

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Libyan opposition group is asking the United States for immediate access to frozen assets of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to pay for humanitarian needs in rebel-held areas.

Ali Aujali, who resigned in February as Libya’s ambassador to the United States and now heads Libya’s most prominent rebel organization, in a letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said the humanitarian conditions have deteriorated in areas held by the rebels.

Rebel groups seeking to overthrow the Libyan leader have been fighting pro-Gaddafi forces in a civil war ignited in February when Gaddafi tried to crush pro-democracy rallies.

Aujali, in the letter dated Thursday, said his group, the transitional national council, “needs immediate access to the Gaddafi regime’s frozen assets in U.S. financial institutions to meet the basic needs of the Libyan people.”

The United States has frozen more than $34 billion in assets as part of sanctions against Gaddafi and his top officials.

The Treasury Department on Friday added five senior officials — Libya’s prime minister, finance minister, oil minister, internal security director and Gaddafi’s chief of staff — and two entities controlled by Gaddafi’s children to its sanctions blacklist.

Obama administration officials have said they were looking into whether some of the frozen cash, securities and other financial instruments could be used to aid the Libyan rebel effort.

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