Libya frees 4 Hamas arms smugglers through 'Turkish mediation'

Gunrunners, arrested in 2016 and handed extended prison terms for arms trafficking and espionage, jet off from Tripoli to Istanbul, and from there to Qatar

Lior Ben-Ari|
Libyan authorities released on Friday four Hamas operatives arrested in 2016 for smuggling weapons to the Gaza Strip.
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The four – Marwan Al-Ashqar, his son Baraa, Moeed Abd and Naseeb Chubair – were arrested in Tripoli on October 6, 2016, following raids on their homes.
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פלסטינים שוחררו מהכלא בלוב
פלסטינים שוחררו מהכלא בלוב
Freed Hamas operatives on plane after their release from Libyan prison
In February 2019, they were sentenced to extended prison terms ranging from 17 to 22 years for arms trafficking and espionage.
Libyan media reported that their release was made at the request of the local prosecution, following "Turkish mediation."
According to reports, upon their release from prison in Tripoli, the four flew to Turkey and then to Qatar, where the terrorist organization's political leadership is based.
In a photo published by Al Jazeera, three of them are seen in what appears to be a private jet, presumably en route to Turkey. The network noted that the four were employed by a "technological devices company" in Tripoli, founded by Al-Ashqar.
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נשיא טורקיה רג'פ טראיפ ארדואן
נשיא טורקיה רג'פ טראיפ ארדואן
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
(Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
According to Al Jazeera, Hamas leaders in Turkey refused to comment on the news but confirmed that the four arrived in Turkey on Friday morning.
A family member of one of the Hamas operatives said that he knew about their impending release for nearly a month.
In the past, Hamas condemned their arrest, claiming they were in Libya for study and work purposes and were not involved in arms smuggling. Journalists in Libya suggested that the release was a concession by the local government to the United States, but at a 2017 press conference, the Tripoli prosecution alleged that the detainees "exposed state security secrets, violated Libyan sovereignty and smuggled weapons to neighboring countries, including Egypt."
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