Libya accuses the Netherlands of spying

Last Updated: Sat, Mar 05, 2011 14:10 hrs

The Hague, March 5 (DPA) Libyan state television has accused the Netherlands of spying, following the capture of a Dutch navy helicopter and its three-strong crew by militias loyal to embattled leader Muammar Gaddafi, Dutch state radio (NOS) reported Saturday.

The Netherlands is engaged in intense negotiations with Libya in a bid to gain the release of the three marines.

'The aim of the helicopter (Lynx) mission was to drop or pick up spies on Libyan soil,' Libyan state TV said, alleging 'an international conspiracy' against Gaddafi, Dutch news agency ANP reported.

Tripoli accused the three soldiers of 'breaching international law' after they had infiltrated Libyan airspace without clearance.

The helicopter had taken off from the Dutch frigate MS Tromp which was stationed off the Libyan coast.

The Dutch government declined to discuss the details of its efforts to gain the three soldiers' release.

Thursday evening, Libyan state TV showed a video of the Dutch soldiers and the navy helicopter in the Gaddafi-controlled city of Sirte Sunday, as part of a mission to evacuate two Western foreigners.

The two foreigners - one of them a Dutch citizen - were later handed over to the Dutch embassy by the Libyan military and left the country.