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GNA to release Russians accused of vote meddling

The Address | Benghazi – Libya

TRIPOLI – The Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) has agreed to release two Russian political operatives who’ve been jailed for more than a year, officials said.

The deal between Tripoli and Moscow was reached last week, four officials with knowledge of the negotiations told Bloomberg. The prisoners could be sent to Moscow within days, two of the officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the agreement isn’t yet public.

Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, said in a text message to Bloomberg, “contacts on this issue have become more active but it’s early yet to talk about any results.”

GNA authorities detained Maxim Shugaley and Samir Seifan, both Russian citizens, in May 2019 while they were working with Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of ousted leader Muammar al Gaddafi, to help engineer his return through eventual elections. Prosecutors accused them of election meddling on behalf of Moscow, jailing them pending trial. The Moscow-based company that sent them to Libya denied the charges.

Russian officials had set their release as a condition for improving ties with the Tripoli government, which enjoyed military backing from Turkey during the second Libyan civil war.

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