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Carr defends Australia's treatment of aid worker in Libya

FOREIGN Minister Bob Carr has defended the treatment of Australian aid worker Pippi Bean, who was detained in Libya last week, saying she had received "considerable consular assistance".

Ms Bean told Fairfax that the "lowest point" of her time under questioning by Libya's security services last week was when she was told of Mr Carr's comments on ABC TV that she "doesn't require further assistance".

Mr Carr responded today with a detailed timeline of the assistance Ms Bean had received, beginning on September 24 when she first called the Consul at the Australian Embassy in Cairo (the nearest Australian representative to Libya) to inform them she had been summoned to answer questions by Libyan authorities.

The timeline shows phone calls — all initiated by Ms Bean — each day for three days then, on September 27, a call from the Consul to check on her welfare and a formal communication from him to the Libyan government "seeking advice on Ms Bean's legal status".

That was also the day Mr Carr was interviewed on ABC radio saying, "it's not our practice to send lawyers in to Australians who might have some argument or might be in some trouble with a foreign jurisdiction".

He also said in that interview: "We will provide in this case, as we do in all comparable cases, consular assistance".


The following day, September 28, the Australian Consul did arrive in Libya, and the UK Embassy in Tripoli, which helps Australia in some consular matters, offered to accompany Ms Bean to her next meeting with Libyan authorities.

On Friday last week, as reported in the original story, both UK and Australian representatives accompanied her to a meeting with Libyan officials.

After that they escorted her to the airport for her departure.

Mr Carr said that the comments which had concerned Ms Bean from his ABC 7.30 interview were "correct at the time of the recording".

Ms Bean said today she stood by the original story and would not be offering any further comment.