Federal Politics


Free at last, Australian's Libyan ordeal over

Australian aid worker Alexandra Bean has flown out of Libya, nearly a week after she was left stranded in Tripoli when authorities seized her passport.

The 30-year-old, also known as "Pippi", flew out of Tripoli late last night, Australian time, her brother James Bean said.

She was escorted to her plane in Tripoli by Australian consular officials and is en route to their family home in Bali, he said.

Mr Bean has been working tirelessly to draw attention to his sister's situation.

"I was just petrified that she would be placed under lock and key and that worried us a lot.

"That’s why we jumped on it so hard and pushed so hard.


"If it was your family you wouldn’t give up either."

But Mr Bean remains critical of the Australian government and particularly his sister's employer, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), over its handling of her situation.

He said it was hard for his sister to leave Libya, despite the circumstances, because she loved her work.

"I know she is really torn up about leaving Libya ... she has poured her heart and soul into her work in Libya.

"She really feels very strongly about her work and this is not how she wants to leave.

"We are dismayed that IOM hasn't done what it should have done for one of its staff."

Ms Bean, who had been working for the organisation, was allowed to leave after several days of diplomatic negotiations involving Australian and British consular officials, Mr Bean said in an earlier email to the media.

A statement from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade yesterday said her passport had been returned to her and she was free to leave.

"We welcome this outcome and acknowledge the cooperation of Libyan authorities," the statement said. "We also appreciate assistance from UK embassy in Tripoli."

On Tuesday, Ms Bean faced four hours of questioning by security officials over false claims she was raped by a senior government official. She was pressed to sign a statement in Arabic.

On Wednesday, she was about to board a flight from Tripoli to Rome, on advice from her superiors, when Libyan officials detained her, again questioned her for four hours and seized her passport.

Last week Mr Bean said his sister was "very nervous and uncomfortable" and was afraid of being dragged deep into a complex political scandal. Mr Bean said once his sister was home she planned to speak to the media and tell her side of the story, including what she went through and how the negotiations with Libyan officials played out.

Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr called it a happy outcome.

"It's very good news and I'm relieved for her family," Senator Carr told Channel Ten.

with AAP