The British government has expelled five Libyan diplomats who allegedly could pose a threat to UK national security.
The Foreign Secretary William Hague told a session of Parliament: To underline our grave concern at the [Gaddafi] regime's behavior, I can announce to the House that we have today taken steps to expel five diplomats at the Libyan Embassy in London, including the military attaché.
Hague added that The [UK] government also judged that, were these individuals to remain in Britain, they could pose a threat to our security.”
According to Sky News, the five are believed to be the strongest supporters of Gaddafi in the London embassy. They also reportedly tried to intimidate opponents of Gaddafi’s regime.
Meanwhile, following the example set by senior U.S. government officials, the British Prime Minister David Cameron told the House that the UK may also consider arming Libyan rebels in their battle against Gaddafi. Cameron cited that the U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973 allows all necessary measures to protect civilians and civilian-populated areas...but we have not taken the decision to do so.
However, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told Sky News that arming the rebels has no legal basis.
The Security Council Resolution is very clear in my opinion, Rasmussen said.
It requests the enforcement of an arms embargo and actually NATO has decided to participate in the enforcement of the arms embargo. We are there to protect people, not to arm people.
Hague also confirmed that UK diplomats have spoken with Libyan rebels in the city of Benghazi in recent days, ahead of similar measures being held by U.S. and French officials.
The purpose of the mission was to meet key Libyan opposition groups in eastern Libya, including the Interim Transitional National Council and its military council, to gain a greater insight into political and security situation, he said.
In Libya itself, Gaddafi-backed troops have bombarded the strategic oil refinery town of Ras Lanuf, which was formerly in rebel hands. Sky News reported that hesitation by western coalition forces about undertaking air strikes on the city – due to fears that civilians might be killed -- likely led to Gaddafi’s forces gaining control.