The French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy, very involved in the French decision to intervene in Libya against Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, caused controversy after a turbulent visit on Saturday in western Libya. So much so that the government of the country announced in a press release that it had opened an “investigation” into the circumstances of this visit.
According to local sources, BHL landed on a private jet on Saturday at Misrata airport, 200 km west of Tripoli. On the visit program published by Libyan media, the authenticity of which could not be verified, BHL was to meet several local officials and deputies in Misrata before visiting the city of Tarhouna (West) to investigate mass graves discovered in the city, after the departure of the troops of Marshal Khalifa Haftar, a strong man from the east of the country.
BHL was due to be received on Sunday by Fathi Bashagha, the UN-recognized Interior Minister of the Government of National Union (GNA) and based in Tripoli.
“Here as a journalist”
Speaking briefly on the Libyan pro-GNA channel Libya Al-Ahrar, BHL said he had come to Libya “as a journalist” for a report for the American daily Wall Street Journal.
After his engagement with the rebels in 2011, BHL lost his aura and became persona non grata for many Libyans, notably for his activism in favor of an international intervention in 2011, led by France, Great Britain and United States.
The opposition to his visit by a large part of the public opinion in the Libyan West is also motivated by the accusations of the GNA against France suspected of having supported the offensive of Haftar against Tripoli, which Paris defends itself.
On Saturday, pro-GNA groups claimed to have prevented the BHL convoy from entering Tarhouna, 65 km south-east of Tripoli, and the last stronghold of the pro-Haftar in the west.
On his Twitter account, BHL posted a photo of him surrounded by a dozen men in uniform, armed and hooded, claiming to be in Tarhouna.
He also retweeted a video showing his convoy attacked and posted a message calling those who tried to block him “rogue”. “The real Libyan police protect the free press,” he added.
Embarrassed by the controversy, the office of Fayez al-Sarraj, head of the GNA, denied “any connection” with the visit of BHL and announced in a statement that it had opened an “investigation”. He promised “deterrent measures” against all those involved in the organization of the visit.