Turkish-Owned Cargo Ship Released by Libyans After Paying a Fine
The Turkish-owned cargo ship detained by the Libyan National Army (LNA) controlled by Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar was released after five days on December 10. It reportedly was permitted to proceed after paying a fine for entering Libyan waters without permission.
After the vessel was seized, Turkish authorities declared that it was on a humanitarian mission carrying medicine and supplies to the city of Misrata. At the time there was a crew of 17 onboard consisting of nine Turkish nationals, seven Indians, and one from Azerbaijan, when speedboats came alongside and members of the LNA boarded the Jamaican-flagged Mabrooka.
A spokesman for the LNA reported that they inspected the ship and its crew before permitting it to proceed. They claimed that the vessel had violated maritime rules and laws entering an area where it should not have been sailing. They also claimed it was hundreds of miles from its declared destination and that the crew did not comply with instructions. After boarding the Mabrooka, the LNA reported that the vessel had been towed to the Ras Al-Halil port for further investigation.
The Republic of Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded saying that it believed Turkish interests were being targeted by the rebel forces and threatened. Turkey sides with the Tripoli-based government in opposition to Haftar. Turkey had called for the immediate release of the ship warning of “grave consequences.”
Analysts suggested that the action by the LNA was in response to Turkey's growing intervention in the Libyan conflict. Turkish warships have been seen offshore contributing to increased tensions on both sides of the conflict.
The LNA had in the past subjected other ships to a similar treatment of stopping them for inspections and holding them until a fine was paid.