March 16, 2012 / 5:18 AM / 7 years ago

Niger rescinds Gaddafi official's diplomatic passport

NIAMEY (Reuters) - Niger has annulled a diplomatic passport it handed to Muammar Gaddafi’s former chief of staff, security sources said, because of fears the move would further damage Niger’s already frayed relations with the new leaders of Libya.

Niger gave Bashir Saleh Bashir the passport and an advisory role in government earlier this month.

“Yes, Bashir had received a diplomatic passport indicating that he is an advisor to the president of the republic. We have annulled the document following instructions,” said a senior Niger police officer who asked not to be named.

The officer declined to give details about the instructions or who issued it.

Another senior officer, who also requested not to be named, said the cancellation of the passport stemmed from the desire of Niger’s government to ease relations with the new Libyan authorities.

“I believe this decision is aimed at defusing the tension between our leaders and those of the new Libya. You know that Libya is still furious that our authorities had given asylum to people close to Gaddafi, including his son Saadi,” the officer said.

Libyan authorities have pressed Niger to extradite Saadi, saying his call on February 10 for Libyans to prepare for a “coming uprising” threatened ties.

Niger has pledged to tighten surveillance on Saadi but said he could not be handed to a state where he might be executed.

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