Thousands of Libyan antiquities smuggled to Europe says antiquities chief – Al Marsad

Libya, 21 February 2019 – Thousands of antiquities from Libya have been stolen and smuggled to Europe according to the head of the Interim Government’s Antiquities Authority, Ahmed Hussein.

Speaking yesterday, Wednesday, on an American TV channel, Hussein said that his department was unable to prevent the thefts at the moment but had been making an inventory of items. This was helping track them down and help secure their return from Europe.

The smuggling and sale of Libyan antiquities is said to have soared since the 2011 revolution, with money going not just to smugglers but to terrorists groups as well.

In March last year, Spanish police arrested a Barcelona art dealer and his business partner on charges relating to the smuggling classical antiquities from Greek and Roman sites in Libya. The smuggling ring is alleged to have paid Daesh for the items. Artefacts seized by the police in raids in and around Barcelona included mosaic and other items from both eastern and western Libya. Some were allegedly pillaged from Apollonia and Cyrene in July 2014 and March 2015. Other items are reported to have come from Sabratha.

Allegations that Libyan antiquities have been sold by Daesh to dealers in Europe, among them the Italian mafia, have been circulating for the past three years.