Freed lawyer speaks to ‘delighted’ husband

Freed lawyer speaks to ‘delighted’ husband

Australian lawyer Melinda Taylor, left, arrives at the airport in Rome. Australian lawyer Melinda Taylor leaves jail.
Nanjing Night Net

On a plane home … Melinda Taylor with husband, Geoffrey Roberts, and daughter, Yasmina.

Australian lawyer Melinda Taylor is on a plane on her way home to the Netherlands, after she was released from jail in Libya overnight.

She is due to arrive in Rotterdam later today, having flown out of Tripoli on an Italian military aircraft. She will be met in the Netherlands by her husband Geoff Roberts and her two-year-old daughter, Yasmina.

Mr Roberts told the National Times that her family was very relieved by her release. He had spoken to her on the telephone during her trip and said, “she’s OK”.

“I am delighted that she’s been released. I am obviously very happy about that. But I don’t want to talk too much until I have spoken to her.”

An “ecstatic” Janelle Taylor heard her daughter say “I love you” this morning in an emotional phone call.

Although unable to speak about her experience, the lawyer was able to reassure her Brisbane-based mother that she was fine.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Bob Carr, who is in New York, said the news of Ms Taylor’s relief had given him a boost.

“It’s actually lifted the jetlag,” he said this morning.

“I only wish that I could be there at Rotterdam airport when Melinda arrives and she lifts up that two-year-old,” he said.

He thanked Libyan authorities, especially “Prime Minister el-Keib and Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz, whose personal intervention was instrumental in bringing this matter to a close”.

Senator Carr said that Ms Taylor’s husband had been able to distract their daughter by changing the subject and talking about their pet dogs whenever Yasmina had asked about her mother.

But the Foreign Minister also said that the young girl had been waking up at night and crying unaccountably.

The Australian government has been pushing for Ms Taylor’s release, since she and three International Criminal Court colleagues were detained in the city of Zintan on July 7, accused of threatening Libya’s national security.

It was alleged that Ms Taylor had a spy camera in a pen and passed coded letters to the son of Muammar Gaddafi, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, from his former right-hand man, Mohammed Ismail.

The Australian lawyer’s release comes after weeks of talks that involved the Australian government, Libyan authorities and the ICC.

Ms Taylor was released to Australian ambassador-designate to Libya, David Ritchie, at 1am AEST today and has travelled back to Europe with a delegation lead by ICC President Song Sang-hyun.

Judge Song told reporters on the tarmac in Rome that Ms Taylor was in good spirits and health.

“I’m very happy to bring them all back to freedom,” he said.

Ms Taylor is still likely to face an internal ICC inquiry into allegations raised by the Libyan authorities.

In a statement yesterday, the court said the information reported by the Libyan authorities would be fully investigated in accordance with “ICC procedures”.

But Senator Carr said he did not think this was a concern as the issues between Libya and the ICC had been resolved. “We can rest easy about that,” he said.

Senator Carr said that even though Ms Taylor has been released, there were times when he thought the process was taking too long and he feared the worst.

“As late as Sunday [I] was talking to [parents] John and Janelle,” he said.

“I had to tell them the evidence was ambiguous.”

The Foreign Minister said that the episode, which has required a lot of interaction with the Libyan government, had had a positive effect on Australia’s relationship with the country.

“It’s had the ironic effect of giving us real rapport with the Libyan leadership,” he said.

“I’ve come to appreciate my conversations with the prime minister, and the deputy foreign minister.”

Follow the National Times on Twitter: @NationalTimesAU

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