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Gadhafi's son seeks travel ban waiver, lawyer says

By Nic Robertson, CNN
July 31, 2012 -- Updated 1446 GMT (2246 HKT)
Saadi Gadhafi, pictured in January 2010, is under a travel ban.
Saadi Gadhafi, pictured in January 2010, is under a travel ban.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Saadi Gadhafi is under United Nations sanctions that bar him from international travel
  • He wants to leave Niger because he fears for his safety, his lawyer Nick Kaufman says
  • The lawyer won't say where Saadi Gadhafi wants to go
  • Niger won't hand Gadhafi over to Libya, saying he won't get a fair trial

(CNN) -- Saadi Gadhafi, one of the late Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi's sons, has asked the United Nations to let him travel outside the African nation of Niger, his lawyer says.

Gadhafi is under a travel ban because of international sanctions imposed on Libya by the United Nations Security Council last year.

The international police agency Interpol has also issued a "red notice" for him, calling for his arrest.

But he fears for his safety in Niger, his lawyer Nick Kaufman said. Saadi Gadhafi fled to Niger as his father's regime collapsed last year.

"There has been at least one assassination attempt," although Gadhafi is under government protection, Kaufman told CNN on Monday. They also fear that instability in nearby Mali could affect his safety.

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Kaufman has applied to the U.N. Sanctions Committee for a one-time waiver of Gadhafi's travel ban, Kaufman said.

"He wants to leave," the lawyer told CNN. "I've made an application."

Kaufman said Niger's minister of justice, Marou Amadou, said he did not object: "He told me he has no problem with him [Saadi] leaving the country."

Libya wants Gadhafi handed over to face charges, but Niger has refused, saying Gadhafi will not get a fair trial and his life could be in danger if he returns to his home country.

That puts Gadhafi in "a bizarre situation," Kaufman says: He is "under virtual house arrest and not free to gallivant around the city" that he wants to leave for his safety.

Kaufman says Justice Minister Amadou wants Gadhafi gone as long as it is done legally. He said Amadou was concerned that the International Criminal Court would object to Gadhafi's travel, but the lawyer pointed out that the court currently has no charges outstanding against Saadi Gadhafi.

Kaufman says Gadhafi is "grateful to Niger" but adds that it's in Niger's interests for Gadhafi to leave.

When asked where Gadhafi would go, the lawyer said: "He has certain destinations he like to go to."

He refused to elaborate.

Gadhafi's brother Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, once seen as their father's heir apparent, is in Libyan custody and is the subject of a tussle between Libya and the International Criminal Court, both of which want to put him on trial.

Kaufman says he made the application to the U.N. Sanctions Committee for the one-time travel waiver about a month ago. He says that when he didn't get a response in the customary five days, he followed up and was told that no decision had been reached.

He was informed that a party or parties on the sanctions panel "had placed the request on hold," he said.

Kaufman says he fears the block is political.

He says he and his client are not entitled to know which country or countries on the Sanctions Committee have placed a hold on the decision. Such requests normally get a simple yes or no, he said.

The 15 nations on the Security Council have representatives on the sanctions panel.

A block placed by a nation is lifted only when that nation's term on the Security Council expires. If one of the permanent five council members has placed the hold, the block on the waiver request could last indefinitely.

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