Two men held in Libya are not spies, say Turkish officials

Turkish officials have denied that two Turkish restaurant workers, who were detained earlier this month in Libya by forces of eastern military commander Khalifa Haftar, were spies, pro-government news outlet Habertürk reported on Wednesday.

Volkan Altınok and Mehmet Demir, who worked in a restaurant in the south of the capital Tripoli, have been held in prison near Benghazi since April 12. Pro-Haftar media reported that they were suspected of spying, however, Turkish authorities had rejected the allegations, calling it “social media delirium,” it said.

The two Turkish men reported abducted in Tripoli were working as foreign mercenaries, Libyan sources told Arab Weekly.

Haftar’s eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA) has taken control over large parts of the east and south of Libya, and launched a surprise offensive against Tripoli, the seat of Fayez al-Sarraj’s GNA, in early April, and has made steady progress since then towards capturing the capital.

Turkey supports Sarraj’s forces, while Ankara’s regional rivals including Saudi Arabia and Egypt back Haftar.