Son of late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi freed after being kidnapped in Lebanon

Hannibal Kadhafi (above), a son of the late Libyan dictator Moamer Kadhafi, in a 2010 file photo.
Hannibal Kadhafi (above), a son of the late Libyan dictator Moamer Kadhafi, in a 2010 file photo.PHOTO: AFP

BEIRUT (AFP) - Hannibal Kadhafi, the high-living businessman son of the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, was freed late on Friday (Dec 11) several hours after he was kidnapped in Lebanon by an unknown armed group, security sources said.

Lebanese police freed Mr Gaddafi and were set to question him, one source said, without specifying where the businessman had been released.

A second security source said that Gaddafi had been "kidnapped by an armed group in the region of Bekaa while he was travelling from Syria, before being released on Friday night in the same region".

Bekaa is an eastern stronghold of Lebanese Shi'ite movement Hezbollah.

Lebanon's National News Agency said Mr Gaddafi's kidnappers had demanded "information on Mussa Sadr", a Lebanese Shi'ite leader who went missing in 1978.

Beirut blamed the disappearance on the longtime Libyan strongman, and the Gaddafi family was branded persona non grata by Lebanon, especially among members of the Shi'ite Muslim community.

A former Libyan envoy to the Arab League, Mr Abdel Moneim al-Honi, told the pan-Arab newspaper Al-Hayat in 2011 that Mr Sadr had been ordered killed during a visit to Libya and was buried in the southern region of Sabha.

Late on Friday, the Lebanese private television channel Al-Jadid broadcast a video purportedly showing Gaddafi.

In the video he appears to have been beaten up and has two black eyes, but he says that he is "well" and calls on "all those who have evidence about Sadr to present it without delay".

It was not clear when or where the video was filmed.

The lavish lifestyles of Gaddafi's family and entourage helped fuel the anger in Libya that sparked the protests that led eventually to the strongman's ouster.

Hannibal, born in 1975, was among a group of family members - including Gaddafi's wife Safiya, son Mohammed and daughter Aisha - who escaped to neighbouring Algeria after the fall of Tripoli in 2011.

In 2008, he and his Lebanese wife, Aline Skaf, sparked a diplomatic incident with Switzerland when they were arrested in a luxury Geneva hotel for assaulting two former servants.

The Libyan regime demanded that no charges be brought and an apology be made over the allegations that he had assaulted the pair, a Tunisian and a Moroccan.

The case was dropped.

In 1978, as the older Gaddafi was battling an uprising against him, a private jet carrying Skaf was refused permission to land at Beirut's airport.

An official said at the time that acting transport minister Ghazi Aridi had asked for a detailed passenger manifest and that his request was rejected by the Libyans.