Libyan Embassy blues

It was no surprise today when I returned to the Libyan embassy in Knightsbridge, security was rather tight and trying to get past the press officer to the reception wouldn’t be easy. Instead of one officer, there were ten this time and the embassy was surrounded by high barricades.

Still trying to help out colleagues in New York with their visas, after two days of calling, we thought a trip down there would be worth a  try. However unlike the last time, I wasn’t treated to a fancy coffee by the press officer, infact I wasn’t acknowledged.

Much has changed , since the military action in Libya. There weren’t many protesters lined up outside the embassy, did leave me wondering if some of them have just taken the next flight out to Benghazi. Obviously their spirit to fight for democracy and freedom was rife and they were very much hopeful the last time I interviewed them at the protests in London. Then again, that was ten days ago.

Well hard luck this time, but at-least I was safe and back to the office

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Uncovering Libyan money

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Three weeks at Feature Story News (FSN) and it doesn’t feel like it. Time flies. No two days are the same. Everyday I have something different to look forward to. Work experience is exhilarating, who would imagine in three weeks I would produce stories for France 24, CCTV, Deutsche Welle Radio and Channel News Asia.

My highlight during the first week was investigating Libyan money in London. Tracking down the campaigner against Gaddafi, Dr. Saul Zadka was a bit of a challenge.  After relentlessly chasing the news reporter at Hampstead and Highgate express, I was lucky to get his contact details and an interview followed soon. As Olly and I walked to his luxurious home in East Finchley, I realised I was walking down the ‘Billionaire’s Row’ down Bishop’s Avenue. The neighbourhood is quiet, the mansions are sprawling with beautiful gardens and high gates. It’s not unusual to see the most expensive cars Bentleys and fancy Porsches speeding up and down the road. There’s a sign of each house having indoor swimming pools and tennis courts. I’m told it is home to some of the wealthiest property magnates, Russian oligarchs, Kings and Princes of the wealthy Arab nations including the Sultan of Brunei, Lakshmi Mittal and King of Saudi Arabia. Gaddafi’s home itself is worth   10 – 12 million.

There was no sign of him being there, but the heating was on. The interview with Dr.Saul Zadka went well. When asked what would he like done to  Gaddafi’s home, Zadka said ‘the place should be sold and the proceeds should go to innocent victims in Libya.’

This wasn’t the first time I heard of Gaddafi angering local residents. Back in 2009, he is said to have caused nuisance to residents in Englewood, New Jersey when he visited the United States for the UN General Assembly in September. Popularly known as ‘Thunder Rock Mansion’ or Englewood Palace, it had 25 rooms, swimming pools, tennis courts, whirlpool and cabanas.

One would think, after amassing so much wealth during his 41 year reign, he would relinquish power, but such is not the case with Gaddafi I guess. One man’s greed and power alone can do more harm than one could imagine.