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Son of late Libyan leader Gaddafi 'freed after kidnapping'

Gaddafi had been kidnapped on Friday by an armed group
File photo of Hannibal Gaddafi (AFP)

Hannibal Gaddafi, the high-living businessman son of the late Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, was freed on Friday evening several hours after he was kidnapped in Lebanon by an unknown armed group, security sources told AFP.

Lebanese police freed Gaddafi and were set to question him, one source said, without specifying where the businessman had been released.

A second security source told AFP Gaddafi had been "kidnapped by an armed group in the region of Bekaa while he was travelling from Syria, before being released on Friday night in the same region".

The Gaddafi family was long persona non grata in Lebanon, especially among members of the Shiite Muslim community, who believe Libya was behind the 1978 disappearance of a Lebanese Shiite leader, Mussa Sadr.

A former Libyan envoy to the Arab League, Abdel Moneim al-Honi, told the pan-Arab newspaper Al-Hayat in 2011 that Sadr had been ordered killed during a visit to Libya and was buried in the southern region of Sabha.

Lebanon's National News Agency said Hannibal Gaddafi's kidnappers had demanded "information on Mussa Sadr", adding that he was seized in Bekaa, an eastern stronghold of Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah.

Late Friday, the Lebanese private television channel Al-Jadid broadcast a video purporting to show Gaddafi asserting that he was "well" and calling on "all those who have evidence about Sadr to present it without delay".

It was not clear when or where the video was filmed.

The lavish lifestyles of Gaddafi's family and entourage helped fuel the anger in Libya that sparked the protests that led eventually to the strongman's ousting and killing in 2011.

Hannibal, born in 1975, was among a group of family members - including Gaddafi's wife Safiya, son Mohammed and daughter Aisha - who escaped to neighbouring Algeria after the fall of Tripoli.

In 2008, Hannibal and his wife, the Lebanese model Aline Skaf, sparked a diplomatic incident with Switzerland when they were arrested in a luxury Geneva hotel for assaulting two former servants.

The Libyan regime demanded that no charges be brought and an apology be made over the allegations that Hannibal had assaulted the pair, a Tunisian and a Moroccan. The case was dropped.

In 2011, as the elder Gaddafi was battling the uprising against him, a private jet carrying Skaf was refused permission to land at Beirut's airport.

An official said at the time that acting transport minister Ghazi Aridi had asked for a detailed passenger manifest and that his request was rejected by the Libyans.

Two other sons of the late dictator, Saadi and one-time heir apparent Saif al-Islam, are in detention in Libya. Three more were killed during the Libyan revolt.