An unnamed Libyan government source told Al Arabiya correspondent late Saturday that Niger has arrested Saadi Qaddafi and confiscated his cellphones.
The government source added that there was coordination between Libya’s and Niger’s authorities before arresting the son of the slain Libyan leader.
Earlier, Niger said it will not extradite Qaddafi even though he has violated his asylum conditions with “subversive” comments in a television interview, officials said Saturday.
“Our position remains the same ̶ we will hand Saadi Qaddafi to a government that has an independent and impartial justice system,” government spokesman Marou Amadou told reporters in Niamey.
Qaddafi, who took refuge in Niger after the fall of Tripoli ended his father Muammar’s 42-year rule of Libya, told Al Arabiya by telephone that he would return to his country and said a nationwide rebellion was brewing against its new rulers.
“I will return to Libya at any time,” he said.
“There is a rebellion that is going on day after day, and there will be a rebellion in the entire country,” he said, adding that the Libyans were ruled “by gangs.”
Libya’s ruling National Transitional Council responded with a renewed call to the Niger authorities to extradite Saadi Qaddafi, saying that relations between the two neighbors were at risk.
Amadou said that Qaddafi’s comments were “subversive and unfortunate” and that all former close aides to the slain ruler who had taken refuge in Niger “must abstain from all agitation, all subversive behavior.”
“We would like to say to the NTC that Niger’s government in now way approved or prompted this business, and we also are badly disappointed,” Amadou said.
“It is with great bitterness that I say that Saadi Qaddafi, in predicting an imminent uprising in Libya, has contravened the terms and conditions under which we took him in.”
But “our position is simple, we cannot deliver someone to a place where he risks being put to death and where he is not likely to have a dignified trial,” he said.
Amadou said that the surveillance of Qaddafi had been seriously strengthened and the government was considering sanctions against those who were guarding him.
He added that Niger had authorized the International Criminal Court to take over Qaddafi’s case but it had not responded.
Saadi, 38, took refuge in Libya’s southern neighbor last August. Niamey has refused to extradite him despite repeated requests from the new Libyan authorities.
They accuse him of having “taken goods by force and intimidation when he led the Libyan football federation,” according to international police organization Interpol, which issued a "red notice" for his arrest.
Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou said on November 11 his country had granted political asylum to Saadi Qaddafi on “humanitarian grounds.”
Libyan News Agency LANA cited a telephone call between Niger’s Foreign Minister Bazoum Mohamed and his Libyan counterpart Ashour Bin Hayal on Saturday, quoting the Libyan minister as expressing “strong resentment” towards Saadi’s “aggressive statements”.
“Ashour Bin Hayal reiterated to the foreign minister of Niger that these statements threaten the bilateral relationship between the two countries and that the government of Niger should adopt strict measures against him (Saadi) including extraditing him to Libya to be prosecuted for the crimes he committed against the Libyan people,” LANA said.
Interpol last year issued a “red notice” requesting member states to arrest Saadi with a view to extradition if they find him on their territory.
“The foreign minister of Niger ... expressed his regret and apologies to the government and Libyan people for what has happened and confirmed that he will contact the Niger president who is on a foreign visit to France,” LANA said.
“He wants to assure the Libyan side that the demands made forth will be responded to in accordance to the laws and approved customs. He added that the communication between the parties will be open in this regard,” LANA added.
Libyan government officials were not immediately available for comment.
Bad for the neighbors
In an interview broadcast by France 24 on Saturday but recorded before Saadi’s interview was aired, president Issoufou stated that Niger had not received any formal extradition request from Tripoli but would study any future one.
“If we receive an official request we will study it. We are a state based on the rule of law. We will study that question according to our laws and our international commitments, because Niger signed the treaty that created the International Criminal Court,” Issoufou told France 24.
“We took them in on humanitarian grounds ... and we were very clear with them at the time: we took them in on condition they do not carry out any subversive activities against the Libyan authorities.”
The ICC in the Hague issued a warrant for Qaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam ─ who is in a Libyan jail awaiting trial on rape and murder charges ─ but not for Saadi, who before the war was chiefly known abroad for his obsession with soccer.
The Libyan conflict has created new problems for the fragile region to its south. Heavily armed former fighters from Qaddafi’s army have joined a new rebellion in northern Mali that has forced tens of thousands to flee from their homes.
As many as 200,000 migrant workers once employed in Libya have headed back into Niger, which along with the rest of the Sahel region is facing the latest of its recurrent food crises.
Aid agencies say their arrival has stretched scarce food resources even more thinly.