International

Libya's Oil Minister Reportedly Defects

Libyan oil chief Shukri Ghanem at an OPEC meeting on Dec. 11, 2010. i i

Libyan oil chief Shukri Ghanem at an OPEC meeting on Dec. 11, 2010. Patricio Realpe/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Patricio Realpe/AP
Libyan oil chief Shukri Ghanem at an OPEC meeting on Dec. 11, 2010.

Libyan oil chief Shukri Ghanem at an OPEC meeting on Dec. 11, 2010.

Patricio Realpe/AP

Several reports say Shukri Ghanem, head of Libya's National Oil Ministry, has defected from Moammar Gadhafi's government and left his country for Tunisia. Bloomberg gets the tip from Libyan rebel leaders, while Reuters hears it from a Tunisian security source.

The Libyan government denies the Ghanem story, and a spokesman told the AP Ghanem was working in his office. Sky News says Ghanem is considered one of Libya's highest profile officials, and was slapped with US sanctions last month, along with other Gadhafi officials.

Several Libyan diplomats and ministers have previously defected, according to the Telegraph, including foreign minister Moussa Koussa, the interior minister, the justice minister and many ambassadors, including the representative to the UN.

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