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Libya Orders 150 European Citizens Out

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From Times Wire Service

Libya has ordered the expulsion of about 150 British, Spanish and Italian citizens in retaliation for the deportation of Libyans citizens from the three Europeans countries, officials said Wednesday.

Col. Moammar Kadafi’s government issued expulsion orders Tuesday for 19 Britons, about 50 Italians and 80 employees of two Spanish companies. Apparently, the expulsions are random. Employers of the Britons were given quotas and allowed to decide who to send home.

“No one gave us any reason,” said Angelo Vitale, a 24-year-old Italian worker who arrived in Rome on Wednesday.

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Governments in Western Europe have told dozens of Libyans to leave since the European Communities decided last week to reduce Libyan diplomatic staffs drastically and restrict the movements of those Libyans remaining.

Terrorism Charges

European Communities foreign ministers accused Libya of supporting international terrorism, which the United States cited as the reason for its air strike April 15 on Tripoli and Benghazi.

Tensions have been particularly high between Libya and Britain because of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s decision to permit U.S. bombers based in Britain to participate in the air raid.

No Libyan diplomats have been stationed in Britain since relations were broken in April 1984, but Thatcher’s government kicked out 22 Libyan students last Friday on grounds they were involved in “revolutionary activity.”

Britain has ordered 340 other Libyans to leave. They were studying to be airline pilots or aircraft maintenance workers but have been denied access to aircraft, so their purpose for being in Britain no longer exists. Officials said they are expected to leave soon.

Britain cut diplomatic relations after gunfire from inside the Libyan People’s Bureau (embassy) killed a London policewoman during a demonstration by Libyan dissidents.

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Deadline Is Today

Seven of the British businessmen boarded a plane for London on Wednesday, and the other 12 were expected to leave the North African country by the deadline today. The Italians began leaving Tuesday night and the Spaniards were told to be on the first flight from Tripoli to Madrid.

A Foreign Office spokesman in London, who would not let his name be used, said Libyan action was “totally arbitrary.”

“We see no justification for these expulsions and there is no parallel with the 22 Libyan student leaders who were deported for reasons connected with national security,” he said.

According to the Foreign Office, each of the five companies was notified Tuesday of the number of employees it must send home and was allowed to choose them. There was no suggestion of spying or illegal activity, the Foreign Office said, and Libya did not notify the British government of its action directly.

No Oil Workers Expelled

Most of the 3,500 to 4,000 Britons working in Libya are employed by companies producing oil, Libya’s only important export, but no one expelled was working directly for an oil company. Most were employed by consulting firms involved in construction projects.

In Rome, the Foreign Ministry said about 50 Italians had been ordered out of Libya, a former colony with which Italy traditionally has had close relations. The ministry did not have an exact figure.

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Prime Minister Bettino Craxi’s government ordered Libya on Saturday to reduce its diplomatic staff in Italy by 10. Among the ousted Libyans was a diplomat, Mohammed Khalifa Ghadban, who was accused of spying, the Foreign Ministry said. No other details were released.

Raffaele Costa, Italy’s undersecretary of interior, echoed the British reaction in calling the expulsions unjustified.

About 2,800 Italians now work in Libya, down from 8,000 a few months ago.

Company sources in Madrid reported the expulsions of Spaniards. Officials of the construction company Ferrovial and the electrical supply firm Cobra said Libyan police informed 40 employees of each on Tuesday that they had to get out. About 400 Spaniards have been working in Libya.

Spain has expelled 11 Libyans, three of them diplomats and the others teachers and students.

Meanwhile, Czechoslovakia, which has several thousand experts working in public services in Libya, advised its nationals Wednesday to start their home leaves as early as possible.

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