Lawyer back with family, awaits ICC questions


AUSTRALIAN lawyer Melinda Taylor has been reunited with her husband and put her two-year-old daughter, Yasmina, to bed for the first time since she was released from 3½ weeks of captivity in Libya on spying allegations.
“We need to just sleep in and try and get back to normal,” Ms Taylor’s husband, Geoffrey Roberts, told the Herald in a text message yesterday.
However, Ms Taylor’s ordeal may not be over. The International Criminal Court has said it will investigate Libyan claims about Ms Taylor’s conduct.
Ms Taylor’s mother, Janelle Taylor, told the ABC’s 7.30 last night her daughter was coping very well but was surprised at the level of media attention.
“She said, ‘Why would they be interested in me?’ ” Mrs Taylor said.
She said her daughter spoke about how happy she was to be home, but did not discuss any of the details of her captivity.
John Taylor added that he thought his daughter was “unwinding”.
“It was an unpleasant experience, I’m sure. She’ll keep that within herself for a while, I’d say,” Mr Taylor said.
Mrs Taylor said she believed her daughter would be undergoing counselling and a medical examination.
The family thanked those who had provided support during her captivity, including the Foreign Minister, Bob Carr.
“Melinda’s only just realising what sort of work Bob Carr has done for her and she intends … to thank him personally,” Mrs Taylor said.
Mr Carr, who had been involved in negotiations for Ms Taylor’s release, said at times he had feared Ms Taylor might not be released quickly. There were points at which the process was taking too long and he feared the worst, he said.
Ms Taylor, a lawyer with the ICC based at The Hague, arrived on a private chartered jet at a small secondary terminal at Rotterdam airport about 9am yesterday, Australian time.
She and three colleagues who had been with her in Libya spent about 45 minutes with officials before leaving in a convoy that included the ICC president, Song Sang-Hyun.
The Libyans allege Ms Taylor had been caught carrying “spying devices” and documents that breached national security.
They allege she had carried coded documents for Saif al-Islam Gaddafi. Saif is the son of the late dictator Muammar Gaddafi and is a prisoner in jail in the town of Zintan, which is held by a rebel militia.
The ICC wants to try him for crimes against humanity during his father’s rule. Ms Taylor was assigned to speak with him about his legal representation.
In a letter to the United Nations Security Council obtained by The Guardian, Libya claimed she tried to pass Saif a secret letter from Mohammad Ismail, Saif’s “main aide” and an associate of Gaddafi’s intelligence chief, Abdullah al-Senussi.
They allege Ms Taylor also took to the consultation with Saif a miniature “video camera pen” and a watch “that functions for the same purpose”.
Ms Taylor’s supporters have said she is highly professional and would never have behaved improperly. They speculated some of the claims might be the result of failure to understand the normal lawyer-client relationship, which involves exchanging documents and recording evidence.
Senator Carr said yesterday: “Talking to [Ms Taylor’s parents] John and Janelle, I had to tell them the evidence was ambiguous.”

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald.