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U.S. promises to work to free nurses in Libyan HIV case

U.S. promises to work to free nurses in Libyan HIV case

The U.S. government says it will do all it can to persuade Libya to free five Bulgarian nurses sentenced to death for allegedly infecting 400 children with HIV at a Benghazi hospital. According to international observers, the charges against the medics were contrived and extracted by torture. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told Bulgarian foreign minister Solomon Pasi that the Bush administration would "do everything possible, everything within our power, to obtain the release of these prisoners who have been in Libyan prisons for much too long and without justification," said department spokesman Adam Ereli. A Libyan court convicted the nurses and a Palestinian doctor just over a year ago despite testimony from Luc Montagnier, the French codiscoverer of HIV, that the children were infected in 1997--one year before the medics arrived at the hospital. Montagnier said poor hygiene in Libyan hospitals was the likely reason behind the outbreak. Though their death sentences still stand, Seif el-Islam Gadhafi, Libyan leader Mo'ammar Gadhafi's son, said the women would not be executed and could even be extradited to Bulgaria. Ereli said U.S., E.U., and Bulgarian officials met in Washington last week and "discussed ways of and ideas for achieving the release" of the medics, but he did not elaborate on any details. "We will continue with these consultations," said Ereli. "We will continue to work together to impress upon Libya our common desire, our commonly shared belief, that the medics should be released." (AP)

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