Eight West German citizens, detained since last week by Libyan authorities, have been accused of "sabotage and espionage activities" on behalf of the CIA, according to Jana, the official Libyan news agency.
A Foreign Ministry spokesman here declined to comment on the reports and said no official charges had been conveyed to Bonn. He said that West German Ambassador Gunter Held visited the eight captives today for 30 minutes and reported that they were being treated correctly.
There has been widespread speculation that the eight West Germans were seized in retaliation for the arrest here of two Libyans, a doctor and a student, on charges of torturing a young Libyan expatriate last November at the residence of Tripoli's ambassador to Bonn.
At the opening of the trial Monday, the two men were accused by Hah Galiani, 33, of beating him with clubs and wire cable and poking him in the eye with a burning cigarette. The West German prosecutor said the alleged torturers, Dr. Mustapha Zaidi and Abdullah Salem Yahia, had threatened Libyan students with death or kidnaping to Tripoli if they maintained contact with opponents of Libya's leader, Col. Muammar Qaddafi.
While the West German government has avoided drawing a direct link between the two incidents, Foreign Ministry officials have privately conceded that the West Germans' incarceration and the Libyans' trial appear politically related.
The opposition Social Democratic Party declared the detentions were obviously intended to obstruct the trial being conducted in Bonn. The party said that the seizure of the West Germans was "a serious and irresponsible violation of international law."
Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Juergen Moellemann, who has cultivated close contacts in the Arab world, flew to Tripoli last weekend to seek information about the then missing West Germans. Subsequently, they were taken to a private house, where Held visited them today.
Foreign Ministry officials, while extremely cautious about saying anything that might jeopardize the fate of the eight West Germans in Libyan custody, were known to be concerned about the inflammatory charges published by the Libyan news agency. It denounced the West Germans for their "destructive role" and the manner in which they sought to "harm the security of the Libyan population" in their alleged work for American intelligence.
Foreign Ministry sources noted that Tripoli made the charges two days after the two Libyans accused of torture began what is expected to be a three-week trial in Bonn.
Their purported victim, Galiani, told the court that he was summoned to the ambassador's home for what was described as a special congress. Upon arrival, he said, he was vilified as an enemy of Qaddafi and told that he would be drugged and sent back to Libya to meet his death sentence.
Galiani said he dictated a confession, under coercion, into the embassy press attache's tape recorder and signed a pledge to cease all communication with anti-Qaddafi exiles before he was allowed to go free the following day. The two Libyans accused of torture told the judge that they would offer no comment on Galiani's testimony.