Libya on Wednesday condemned the United States’ arrest on its soil of a man suspected of masterminding the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, describing the detention as a violation of Libyan sovereignty.
According to Reuters, Libya’s Justice Minister Saleh al-Marghani said the suspect, Ahmed Abu Khatallah, should be returned to Libya and tried there.
“We had no prior notification. We did not to expect the U.S. to upset our political scene,” Marghani told a news conference, in the first public comments by Tripoli on the arrest.
He said Khatalah had been wanted by Libyan authorities for questioning but a lack of security had prevented this.
Said al Saoud, spokesman for the foreign ministry, said, according to Reuters, “This attack on Libya sovereignty happened at a time when Benghazi is suffering from many problems.”
U.S. President Barack Obama said he authorized the operation in Libya on Sunday in which U.S. commandos snatched Khatallah on Benghazi’s outskirts, and that he was being transported to the United States for prosecution.
Khattala, a leader of the terrorist organization Ansar al-Sharia, has previously denied any connection to the Benghazi attack.
The September 2012 assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, since closed, killed four Americans including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens.
Obama’s administration has faced heavy criticism over the Benghazi attack, and particularly then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who in testimony in 2013 took responsibility for the failings around the attack.
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) on June 1 said he believes Clinton purposely prevented the public release of details pertaining to the attack.