Maltese government secretly helped British spy operations in Libya

Libya and MaltaBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
In the 1980s, Malta was one of the world’s closest allies with the Libyan regime of Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi. For this reason, during the recent Libyan civil war, it was generally presumed that the island nation’s strong cultural and strategic links with Tripoli would prevent it from joining other European nations in actively supporting the Libyan opposition. But internal British government documents, which have been acquired by the BBC, show that Malta was secretly supportive of Western efforts to undermine the regime of Colonel Gaddafi, and went so far as to help smuggle British intelligence operatives into Libya. According to a recent exposé aired by the BBC’s flagship factual program Newsnight, the Maltese government took advantage of its active role as a hub for distributing United Nations humanitarian and logistical assistance to Libyan civilians during the war. In one specific case, Malta offered to work with British external intelligence agency MI6, to fly a group of British intelligence officers to an unspecified location in Libya. The British operatives’ ultimate goal was to meet up with leading members of the opposition Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC), at a predetermined location near Libya’s second-largest city of Benghazi. According to the BBC, the Maltese government secretly authorized the transportation of the MI6 officers into Libya, using a Chinook helicopter, which took off in the middle of the night from Maltese territory. Unfortunately for the British, the mission was intercepted by NTC forces at the Benina International Airport, near Benghazi. The interception led to the arrest of eight of the 20 members of the MI6 group, who were thought by the NTC to be pro-Gaddafi mercenaries. Maltese daily newspaper Malta Today notes that, if the government of Malta did indeed assist the botched MI6 mission, it would mean that, in doing so, it broke international law and several applicable United Nations resolutions. The paper contacted Malta’s Foreign Minister, Tonio Borg, who refused to comment on the allegations, and directed reporters to Malta’s Directorate of Defense. A representative from the Office of the Prime Minister of Malta simply told Malta Today that “throughout the crisis in Libya, Malta acted in accordance with the United Nations Resolutions in addition to the role of a humanitarian hub”.

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