Niger denies it has said Gaddafi son can leave

NIAMEY Sat Sep 8, 2012 3:45pm EDT

NIAMEY (Reuters) - Niger on Saturday denied reports it had agreed to allow Saadi Gaddafi, one of the sons of the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, to leave the West African country where he has been under house arrest after fleeing Libya last year.

His lawyer, Nick Kaufman, had earlier told France 24 television that Niger had agreed to let his client leave the country and that he had lodged a number of asylum claims with other countries.

The 39-year-old businessman and former professional footballer is not wanted by the International Criminal Court but is wanted by Libya which wants to try him for allegedly misappropriating properties via force and for alleged armed intimidation when he headed the Libyan Football Federation.

At Libya's request, Interpol last year issued a "red notice" requesting its member states arrest and extradite Gaddafi - but Niger has cited various reasons for not extraditing him.

Kaufman, his lawyer, had told France 24 that it was "no secret" that Niger had agreed to allow Gaddafi to leave. Without citing sources, the channel said South Africa was one of the countries considering his application.

But Marou Amadou, a spokesman for the Niger government, told Reuters by phone on Saturday that no decision to allow Gaddafi to leave had been taken.

"We never made a decision like this and I have no idea where this lawyer came up with this," he said.

Clayson Monyela, a spokesman for South Africa's Department of International Relations and Cooperation, also denied that his country had received an asylum application from Gaddafi.

"We don't have such a request," he said, adding that rumors Gaddafi had entered South Africa or was on his way there were "absolutely not true".

Under a U.N. Security Council resolution Gaddafi is banned from travelling and has had his assets frozen.

Kaufman said he had applied to the United Nations Sanctions Committee on Libya for a one-time waiver of the travel ban to let him leave Niger but said the issue was being held up.

His brother, Saif al-Islam, is due to go on trial in Libya later this year on war crimes charges and is also wanted by the ICC.

(Reporting By Abdoulaye Massalatchi in Niamey and John Irish in Paris; Editing by Andrew Osborn)