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Niger's leader stands by amnesty offer to Gadhafi's son

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 1:38 AM EST, Sun November 13, 2011
Saadi Kadhafi, pictured, fled Libya across its southern frontier to Niger in August.
Saadi Kadhafi, pictured, fled Libya across its southern frontier to Niger in August.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou addresses reporters
  • He says Saadi Gadhafi is welcome in Niger "for humanitarian reasons"
  • Interpol has issued an arrest for Saadi Gadhafi, who is now in Niger
  • His lawyer has "strenuously" denied the charges against him

(CNN) -- Niger's president is standing by his country's decision to offer amnesty to one of the late Moammar Gadhafi's sons, saying he is entitled to stay in his nation like other "Libyan refugees."

President Mahamadou Issoufou addressed reporters Friday, reaffirming his stance on Saadi Gadhafi, whom Libya wants returned home to stand trial.

"The attitude of the Niger government regarding this has already been noted: We have already welcomed Libyan refugees for humanitarian reasons," Issoufou said. "Of these, one is a son of (Moammar) Gadhafi -- Saadi Gadhafi."

Interpol has issued arrest warrant -- known as a "red notice" -- for Saadi Gadhafi, requesting his provisional arrest ahead of his extradition or surrender to an international court.

The warrant accuses him of "misappropriating properties through force and armed intimidation when he headed the Libyan Football Federation."

His lawyer, Nick Kaufman, told CNN earlier this month that his client "strenuously denies the charges made against him."

Kaufman said he's asked the Interpol secretary general to revoke the warrant, claiming that it is politically motivated and was sought by a new Libyan leadership that lacks legitimacy.

Saadi Gadhafi is in Niger, the landlocked West African nation bordering Libya. His father and three brothers have been killed and one more brother, Saif al-Islam, remains in hiding. His other siblings, meanwhile, escaped to Algeria during the months-long conflict in their native Libya.

Saif al-Islam is also wanted by Interpol, as well as the International Criminal Court. As a party to that court, Niger would be obligated to turn Saif al-Islam over should he be detained within its borders.

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