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Cablegate: Libya Seeks to Blackmail European Missions for Visas

VZCZCXRO9261
PP RUEHTRO
DE RUEHTRO #0526 1851313
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 031313Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3630
INFO RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 0535
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 0701
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 0647
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 1133
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0846
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0524
RUEHSW/AMEMBASSY BERN PRIORITY 0013
RUEHVT/AMEMBASSY VALLETTA PRIORITY 0315
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 0438
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY 0153
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI 4139

C O N F I D E N T I A L TRIPOLI 000526

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR NEA/MAG

E.O. 12958: DECL: 7/1/2018
TAGS: PREL PGOV KCOR CVIS CMGT LY
SUBJECT: LIBYA SEEKS TO BLACKMAIL EUROPEAN MISSIONS FOR VISAS

Chris Stevens, CDA, AmEmbassy Tripoli, State. REASON: 1.4 (b), (d) 1. (C) Summary: In two recent cases, Government of Libya (GOL) officials have essentially blackmailed foreign embassies to issue visas to well-connected but unqualified Libyan visa applicants in exchange for routine diplomatic services. The experiences likely presage challenges Post will face as it expands the scope of its visa processing services in Tripoli. End summary. 2. (C) On June 29, Greek DHM Ioannis Stamatekos told Poloff that the GOL officially informed Greek Embassy officials in Tripoli in a meeting at the MFA that they would not/not clear a shipment of diplomatic goods through Libyan customs unless Greece reversed its position on 12 visa cases of interest to the Libyan authorities. The shipment contains alcoholic beverages from a private Danish duty-free supplier to the Greek Embassy. (Note: The supplier, Peter-Justessen, is the sole company authorized by the GOL to ship alcohol to foreign diplomatic missions in Libya. End note.) According to Stamatekos, the Libyans blocked the shipment after the Greek Consul in Tripoli denied tourist visa applications for 12 "well-connected Libyans". He noted the visa applicants did not actually intend to travel to Greece, but wanted to obtain a Schengen visa from the Greek Embassy since Greece has not yet incorporated biometric requirements into its visa application procedure. 3. (C) On June 30, Swiss Ambassador Daniel von Muralt told CDA that the Libyan authorities recently informed the Swiss Embassy that the Libyan Ministry of the Interior (equivalent) would not/not register the newly-arrived Swiss deputy chief of mission's vehicle and would not/not provide the vehicle with license plates unless Switzerland reversed its recent decision to deny a tourist visa to a well-connected Libyan. The Ambassador did not say how Switzerland reacted to the threat. 4. (C) Comment: The willingness of the GOL to extort other diplomatic missions to issue visas to prominent but unqualified Libyans reflects the extent to which politically-connected individuals are able to manipulate public institutions for their own benefit. In an opaque regime in which lines of authority are deliberately blurred to obscure power structures and mitigate accountability, corruption is pervasive. As Post moves to expand the scope of its visa processing services in Tripoli, we will likely face similar challenges. End comment. STEVENS

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