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U.N. calls on Tunisia to immediately release detained official

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UNITEDNATIONS (Reuters) – The United Nations called on Tunisia on Wednesday to immediately release a U.N. official who was detained more than six weeks ago as part of an investigation by a Tunisian anti-terrorism unit.

Tunisian national Moncef Kartas is a member of a panel of experts that monitors sanctions, including an arms embargo, on Libya and reports their findings to the U.N. Security Council. He was detained in late March at Tunis airport.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the detention and prosecution of Kartas was “in violation of the privileges and immunities that have been granted to Mr. Kartas in the interests of the United Nations.”

He told reporters on Wednesday that the United Nations has formally asked Tunisia for Kartas’ “immediate release and for the charges against him to be dropped.”

A spokesman for a Tunisian anti-terrorism judiciary unit told Tunisian state news agency TAP on March 30 that the detained official had travelled in a private capacity on his Tunisian passport, meaning he was not entitled to diplomatic immunity and could be arrested.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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