AMELIA ADAMS: The Prime Minister has demanded that Libya immediately release an Australian lawyer accused of being a spy. Melinda Taylor was arrested with three other International Criminal Court colleagues on Thursday, while representing the son of the late former leader Colonel Gaddafi. And for the latest on Australian efforts to help free Melinda Taylor we're joined now by Acting Foreign Minister Dr Craig Emerson in our Canberra studio. Dr Emerson, good afternoon to you.
CRAIG EMERSON: Good afternoon Amelia.
ADAMS: Just bring us up to date. What progress has been made today?
EMERSON: The Foreign Minister Bob Carr has had two conversations now with the Libya authorities — one with the Deputy Foreign Minister Minister Muhamed Aziz. We are demanding the immediate release of Melinda Taylor. She has been detained by the authorities in Libya. She is a member of a four-person team representing the International Criminal Court. And we believe she needs to be able to discharge her responsibilities without being detained. So we are demanding her immediate release.
ADAMS: Dr Emerson, can you just explain: Ms Taylor was representing the late Colonel Gaddafi's son …
EMERSON: That's right.
ADAMS: … but she's been accused of being a spy. What's the basis for that accusation? And how concerning is it?
EMERSON: Well, the suggestion is that Melinda Taylor handed over sensitive documents. She is, after all, involved in the defence of Colonel Gaddafi's son. But that seems to be what has riled the Libya authorities. She's doing her job; she's there on behalf of the International Criminal Court. There is a team from the International Criminal Court going to Libya. We also have our Ambassador-Designate David Ritchie headed to Libya. And what we want to see is that immediate release. Because Melinda Taylor is doing her job; it's her responsibility in the justice system to provide defence for anyone, including Muammar Gaddafi's son.
ADAMS: Okay. You mentioned there our Ambassador-Designate on the way. How soon is he expected to arrive? And what more can Bob Carr do to free Ms Taylor?
EMERSON: David Ritchie has been given the necessary entry permits, a visa. Bob Carr will continue to make telephone call representations. He's planning another one within the next little while. Melinda Taylor is not actually in a jail, we are told; she's under house arrest. We're also assured she and the others are safe and well. But we do want the authorities to release her immediately.
ADAMS: Good to hear she's safe and well, at least. Dr Emerson, we'll have to leave it there. Thank you very much for your time.
EMERSON: Okay. Thanks very much, Amelia.
- Minister Emerson's Office: (02) 6277 7420
- DFAT Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555