Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Libya releases details about Canadian citizen accused of industrial espionage

Details have been released regarding the repatriation of a Canadian citizen, Douglas O'Reilly, who had been prevented from leaving Libya after being accused of industrial espionage during a recent trip to Tripoli. There is no information on when he will actually leave Libya but the restrictions no longer apply. It is understood that O'Reilly was made to stay in his hotel room in Tripoli while investigations were carried out into the accusations.

The news will be of interest to those doing business in Libya because it highlights one of the concerns for foreign workers in the Jamahiriya. The vagaries of local security systems mean that there is always a chance, albeit small, of workers being hindered by overly zealous local authorities.

It was alleged that O'Reilly was working clandestinely for clients interested in disadvantaging BP's current offshore drilling campaign. It is alleged that they sought to highlight the numerous offshore archaeological sites that would be at risk if there was another oil spill similar to the one that BP has recently experienced in the Gulf of Mexico. O'Reilly had been placed under surveillance by Libyan authorities who didn't believe his claims that he was simply a touring archaeologist concerned about a new BP offshore rig.

It was also alleged in other reports that he was working with US intelligence “to gather information aiming to ensure the failure of the drilling project” and that he had been spotted meeting a US diplomat who is suspected of being a CIA spy.

Jim Delgado, of the Texas-based Institute of Nautical Archaeology, said that everyone wanted to avoid a repeat of the Gulf of Mexico spill but that his institute has been discussing the oil project with Libya, which he says is taking pains to ensure drilling doesn't adversely affect any future finds.

For more news and expert analysis about Libya, please see Libya Focus and Libya Politics & Security.

© 2010 Menas Associates

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