Moussa Koussa, Libya’s former foreign minister who defected to the U.K., has been questioned and debriefed by British authorities.
UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said Koussa had departed Libya on his own free will.
His resignation shows that Gaddafi's regime, which has already seen significant defections to the opposition, is fragmented, under pressure and crumbling from within, Hague told reporters.
Gaddafi must be asking himself who will be the next to abandon him.
The British foreign office noted that Koussa “is one of the most senior figures in Gaddafi's government and his role was to represent the regime internationally - something that he is no longer willing to do.
However, spokesman for the Libyan government adamantly denied that Koussa had defected and insisted he was on a diplomatic mission.
He is on a diplomatic mission, Mussa Ibrahim, the spokesman, said. He provided no further details.
UK intelligence hopes that by using Koussa’s knowledge of the Libyan regime, the present crisis may be resolved quickly.
Hague urged other Libyan officials close to Gaddafi to embrace the better future for Libya, although he added that Koussa was not offered any immunity.
We encourage those around Gaddafi to abandon him and embrace a better future for Libya that allows political transition and real reform that meets the aspirations of the Libyan people, he said in a statement.
Koussa, who is reportedly 60 years old, has some familiarity with Britain – he served as Libya’s de factor ambassador to London in 1979-1980. He also has extensive knowledge of the inner workings of Gaddafi’s regime, rising to the post of intelligence chief in 1994 and appointed foreign minister in 2009.
Koussa’s unexpected arrival in Britain comes as Libyan rebels continue to retreat from the superior firepower of Gaddafi’s soldiers, while the western coalition remain skittish about air strikes due to the potential for civilian casualties. Rebels have recently lost their control over key port cities Ras Lanuf and Bin Jawad.
Rebels are also under heavy fire in Mistrata, the only town in the west where they had some control.