* Swiss respond to Libyan refusal to free Swiss citizens
* Row started with arrest of Gaddafi's son in 2008
ZURICH, Oct 26 Switzerland advised its citizens
on Monday not to travel to Libya after the North African country
failed to free two Swiss businessmen held there since last year.
The Swiss foreign ministry said in a travel advisory
published on its website that political tension which started
after the arrest of the son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in
Geneva last year was continuing.
"The Libyan authorities are reacting with measures against
Swiss persons and firms in Libya, for example the arrest of
Swiss citizens and the obstruction of business," it said.
The ministry advised against all travel to Libya, adding
that the risk of kidnapping was very high due to armed gangs and
Islamist militants who operated in large parts of the Sahara.
The Swiss say Gaddafi promised to free the businessmen after
meeting Swiss President Hans-Rudolf Merz on the sidelines of the
U.N. General Assembly in New York last month. [ID:nLO120274]
The two men are Max Goeldi, head of the Tripoli unit of the
Swiss-Swedish electrical engineering conglomerate ABB ABBN.VX,
and a construction firm employee identified as Rachid Hamdani in
They have been prevented from leaving Libya since July 2008,
days after Swiss police arrested Hannibal Gaddafi on charges,
later dropped, of beating and mistreating two domestic employees
while staying in Geneva.
ABB said on Friday it had not heard from Goeldi for five
weeks and did not know where he was. ABB called on the Swiss and
Libyan governments to resolve the situation swiftly.
After Hannibal Gaddafi and his pregnant wife Aline were
arrested in a Geneva hotel, Libya cut oil supplies to
Switzerland and withdrew more than $5 billion in assets from
The Geneva prosecutor dropped the case last year when the
plaintiffs withdrew their formal complaint after reaching an
undisclosed settlement with the Gaddafis.
(Reporting by Emma Thomasson; editing by Michael Roddy)