Max Göldi returns to Switzerland

Bern, Press release, 13.06.2010

Swiss citizen Max Göldi, who has been detained in Libya for almost two years and was released from prison in Tripolis on 10 June 2010 after four months’ imprisonment, returned to Switzerland last night. He was flown out of Libya late on Sunday evening. “We are relieved and share in the joy of Max Göldi and his family”, emphasized Federal Councillor Micheline Calmy-Rey, Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs FDFA. At the same time, she thanked Spain and Germany for their services as mediators.

Together with Spain’s foreign minister, Miguel Angel Moratinos, Micheline Calmy-Rey was able to greet Max Göldi personally in the Libyan capital on Sunday, before he departed on a scheduled flight. In Tunis, Max Göldi and Federal Councillor Calmy-Rey met again and then flew back to Switzerland together.

The release of Max Göldi and his return to Switzerland are the result of intensive diplomatic efforts. Since the beginning of the bilateral problems between Switzerland Libya, the FDFA has worked hard at all levels to achieve a solution to the negotiations. It was thanks in part to these efforts that Swiss citizen Rashid Hamdani was able to leave Libya in February 2010. Under the aegis of the Spanish presidency of the Council of Europe and working together with Germany, representatives of Switzerland and Libya recently agreed on a joint action plan. Work can now begin on resolving the bilateral problems. Switzerland is willing to clarify the outstanding points and to gradually normalize its relations with Libya.

In this context, Federal Councillor Micheline Calmy-Rey referred to the significance of the European mediation and thanked Spain and Germany for the services they provided. According to the Head of the FDFA, who had personally asked Spain’s foreign minister Moratinos and Germany’s foreign minister Westerwelle for their support. The willingness of these two EU countries to help went far beyond what one would generally expect from friendly states.Max Göldi’s return ended almost two years of wrangling over the fate of the two Swiss citizens.

· Following the temporary arrest of Hannibal Gaddafi by the Geneva authorities in July 2008, Max Göldi and Rashid Hamdani were arrested and taken to prison. The FDFA subsequently achieved the release of both Swiss citizens.

· The Libyan authorities then denied them the right to leave the country. Both countries attempted to resolve the bilateral problems as part of several rounds of diplomatic negotiations between summer 2008 and summer 2009. At the end of May 2009, the Head of the FDFA and the wives of the two Swiss citizens travelled to Tripolis and conducted talks with the Libyan Prime Minister Al-Baghdadi and other high-ranking government representatives.

· On 20 August 2009, the then Swiss President Hans-Rudolf Merz and the Libyan Prime Minister signed an agreement in Tripolis providing for normalization of bilateral relations within 60 days. During this period, the two Swiss citizens Max Göldi and Rashid Hamdani were captured – against the rules of international law – and taken to an unknown place where they were held for 52 days. When the agreed period for normalization of bilateral relations lapsed, the Federal Council suspended the agreement of 20 August 2010 and resolved to impose measures against Libya.  

· While new rounds of negotiations between Switzerland and Libya began in December 2009 with Germany and Spain acting as mediators, Max Göldi and Rashid Hamdani had to appear before the Libyan legal authorities on counts of alleged visa-related and business offences. The proceedings ended with a prison sentence of four months for Max Göldi, while Rashid Hamdani was acquitted and was able to leave Libya on 23 February 2010. On 10 June 2010, Max Göldi was able to leave prison in Tripolis after four months.

Address for enquiries:

Information FDFA
Bundeshaus West
CH-3003 Bern
Tel.: (+41) 031 322 31 53
Fax: (+41) 031 324 90 47


Federal Department of Foreign Affairs