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Kidnapped Jordan ambassador freed in swap for jihadist

AMMAN--Jordan's ambassador to Libya was freed and returned home on Tuesday, a month after being kidnapped, in an exchange for a jihadist jailed for plotting bomb attacks.

A government minister told AFP that ambassador Fawaz Aitan had been released, with the announcement coming just days after Libya said it had ratified an extradition agreement with Jordan.

A plane carrying Aitan touched down at Marka military airport in Amman, and he was greeted by relatives and officials led by Prince Faisal bin Hussein, the brother of King Abdullah II.

“They (thpe kidnappers) treated me in a civilized and humane manner,” Aitan told reporters after stepping off the aircraft, looking healthy but tired.

Masked gunmen kidnapped the ambassador in mid-April as he was being driven to work in the Libyan capital. They shot at his car and wounded his driver.

There was no claim of responsibility, but Libyan sources said the abductors had demanded the release of Mohammed Saeed al-Darsi, a Libyan jihadist jailed in Jordan.

Darsi was convicted in 2007 on terrorism charges and sentenced to life in prison. He was also found guilty of possessing explosives and involvement in planning to bomb Amman's international airport.

Aitan said his abductors were relatives of Darsi.

The envoy was handed over to the Jordanian authorities in Libya at 0300 GMT, Jordanian Parliamentary Affairs Minister Khaled al-Kalaldah told AFP.

“Last week Darsi was handed over to Libyan authorities in line with the (extradition) agreement so that he will spend the rest of his sentence in Libyan jails,” said Kalaldah.

Libya's foreign ministry confirmed his release, but the justice ministry declined to comment on Darsi's extradition.

Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh was expected to give more details about efforts leading to Aitan's release at a news conference in Amman on Tuesday.

Aitan's abduction was the latest in a series of attacks on Libyan leaders and foreign diplomats in the increasingly lawless North African country, three years after NATO-backed rebels ended autocratic leader Moammar Gadhafi's four-decade rule.

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