Libya FM Defects From Government, Seeks Refuge in Britain

Moussa Koussa quit to protest government attacks on civilians, says friend; Koussa was instrumental in bring Libya back to international community after years of sanctions.

Libyan Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa arrived in Britain on Wednesday to seek refuge after quitting the government in protest against leader Muammar Gadhafi's forces attacks on civilians, a friend told Reuters.

"He has defected from the regime," said Noman Benotman, a friend and senior analyst at Britain's Quilliam think tank.

Libya rebels - Reuters - March 25, 2011

"He wasn't happy at all. He doesn't support the government attacks on civilians," he said "He's seeking refuge in Britain and hopes he will be treated well."

Koussa is one of Gadhafi's key officials and the architect of a dramatic shift in Libya's foreign policy that brought the country back to the international community after years of sanctions.

The British government confirmed the reports, and said it encouraged people around Gadhafi to abandom him.

"We can confirm that Moussa Koussa arrived at Farnborough Airport on 30 March from Tunisia. He travelled here under his own free will. He has told us he is resigning his post," a Foreign Office spokesman said in a statement.

"Koussa is one of the most senior figures in Gadhafi's government and his role was to represent the regime internationally -- something that he is no longer willing to do," the spokesman said.