The authorities are monitoring three Libyan diplomats suspected to be intelligence operatives working for Muammar Gaddafi, The Sunday Times has learnt.

No official confirmation could be obtained about the men, whose names are not being published for security reasons. However, sources said the security service has been monitoring them for some months.

Members of the Libyan community in Malta have also flagged their presence on the island and requested their expulsion. However, although the authorities are on the alert, the agents are not percieved to be a high risk threat.

Their movements in the past months were often conspicuous, with the agents holding meetings in the same location time and again.

Other Libyans believed to be agents who were sent in the past months were denied visas after being flagged by the security service. The agents in Malta are believed to have been gathering intelligence about humanitarian shipments leaving Malta for rebel held areas and trying to coordinate fuel and supplies shipments to the regime during the height of the conflict.

Libyan ambassador Saadun Suayeh confirmed he knew of the diplomats and said they may be deported on the basis of their alleged ties to the regime.

However, a Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman said no request had been made by the Libyan ambassador to have them removed from the list of diplomats, as is protocol.

Meanwhile, Qatar-owned broadcaster Al Jazeera reported last week that a document “provided by the embassy in Malta suggests that a number of Libyans who allegedly met with Goma Gomati (now the ambassador of the National Transitional Council to London) should be kidnapped.”

Dr Suayeh denied these allegations: “This alleged document is not a Libyan Embassy document. As far as this document is concerned, it did not go out from this embassy.

Chase for Gaddafi’s spies in Malta

“I will investigate the case myself, but I doubt that any such document ever went out of this embassy. I am not aware of any, unless something was done behind my back,” Dr Suayeh insisted.

During his speech in Arabic, addressed to the Libyans celebrating the end of Ramadan and the start of a “new Libya” at the embassy in Balzan, Dr Suayeh said the embassy, including its people, could not change overnight. “However, there’s no place at the embassy for people who have stained their hands with Libyan blood,” he warned.

The news comes after the Prime Minister of Libya’s provisional government Mahmoud Jibril warned on Friday of “possible infiltration of Gaddafi thugs on Maltese soil to create instability”.

Dr Jibril met Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi during a brief stopover in Malta after attending the Friends of Libya summit in Paris.

Asked whether the National Transitional Council feared that Malta could be used as an exit route for Gaddafi loyalists, Dr Jibril replied with a straight “yes”.

He added Malta, like other Libyan neighbours, could be used as a base for ex-regime functionaries to escape justice or serve as a launch pad for actions that could destabilise Libya. The north African country’s national security could not be isolated from Malta’s, he said.

Dr Gonzi made it “absolutely clear” that Malta had no intention of protecting anyone fleeing justice.

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