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Profile: Saif al-Islam Gaddafi

Saif al-Islam
Saif al-Islam is highly educated and heads a Libyan charity

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi continues to play a prominent role within Libya's political landscape.

Hailing the release of Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi as a "victory", he continues to deny he will one day take over from his father, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.

He is the second oldest of the colonel's seven sons and has said that succeeding his father would be inconsistent with Libya's progressive system.

However, his influence continues to be felt in Libya and beyond, and his ties with Britain are well established.

Among his many activities, Mr Gaddafi runs the non-governmental Gaddafi Foundation, a charity which tries to project a new and positive image of Libya.

He and his charity also played a leading role in the release last year of Bulgarian nurses who were detained for allegedly infecting Libyan children with HIV.

Corfu meeting

He studied at the London School of Economics and is also said to be an architect with his own agency in Tripoli, having studied architecture in Vienna.

The 37-year-old, whose name means "Sword of Islam", is also said to be fluent in English, German and French.

He has been keen to comment on Megrahi's release, and it has also emerged that he met with UK Business Secretary Lord Mandelson a week before reports that the Lockerbie bomber could be freed.

The Labour peer spoke briefly about the case with the Libyan while on holiday in Corfu.

Lord Mandelson's spokesman said there was a "fleeting conversation about the prisoner".

And Mr Gaddafi, who has a home in London, also has links to the British royal family - he is said to have visited both Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle and has had many meetings with Prince Andrew.

Evidence claim

It has been reported that the prince has flown to North Africa and met Colonel Gaddafi himself several times in the past year, once officially and at least twice privately.

After his release, Megrahi was met by Mr Gaddafi, who thanked both the Scottish and British governments for their "brave stance" although the British government has insisted the decision to release Megrahi was a purely Scottish affair.

Mr Gaddafi added in his statement that there was a "considerable amount of new evidence" to show Megrahi was innocent.

Following Megrahi's release, Mr Gaddafi told Libyan TV his case was raised during talks over oil and gas and reportedly claimed that the issue had been raised repeatedly by Britain's former prime minister Tony Blair.

"In all commercial contracts, for oil and gas with Britain, (Megrahi) was always on the negotiating table," Mr Gaddafi told Libya's Al Mutawassit channel.

Newspaper apology

But Mr Blair has denied making any deals when he was in power.

He told CNN: "The Libyans, of course, were raising the case for Megrahi all the way along, not just with me but with everybody. It was a major national concern for them. But as I used to say to them, I don't have the power to release Mr Megrahi."

In 2002 Mr Gaddafi accepted a public apology from the Sunday Telegraph over articles alleging that he had been involved in an international money-laundering conspiracy.

In 2008 he announced he would no longer be involved in politics, calling for political reforms and again denying he would succeed his father - but observers still suggest he may yet wield power in the North African nation.



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