San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

WikiLeaks: Nephew of Libya's Gadhafi a close collaborator with Daniel Ortega

After winning the presidential election for the second time in 2007, Nicaragua’s president Daniel Ortega named Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi´s nephew as his personal secretary and adviser for foreign affairs, according to the latest Wikileaks cables released by the dailies La Nación from Costa Rica and El Confidencial from Nicaragua.

The 51-years-old Muhamad Muhktar Lashtar, who has been associated with Gadhafi´s intelligence services, has been part of the Ortega government in the last four years, serving also as a substitute congressman before the Central America Parliament.

Lashtar is also the manager of the Nicaraguan Arabic Libyan Agricultural Company, an organization funded by Gadhafi´s money. At the same time he is part of Celeste S.A. a private firm that operates Nicaragua’s Channel 47 television frequency.

The Libyan moved to Nicaragua in the mid 1980s, a few years after the Sandinista Revolution of 1979. During his first years in the country, he worked in Libya’s Embassy to Nicaragua and at the same time became the person in charge of dealing with Gadhafi´s investments in the regions of Tisma and San Francisco Libre.

The arrival of Lashtar into Nicaragua’s political scene raised suspicion among diplomats at the U.S. embassy, which was expressed in the leaks.

Paul Trivelli, U.S. ambassador to Nicaragua from 2005 to 2008 expressed his concerns on a cable signed on Jan. 23 2007.

The cable states: “The Ambassador raised concerns regarding Ortega’s choice of former Libyan/naturalized Nicaraguan Muhamad Muhktar Lashtar as his personal secretary, noting that Lashtar was a commercial attaché at the Libyan embassy in Managua in the 1980s and reportedly associated with Libyan Intelligence.”

Three days later, in a conversation between Trivelli and the Sandinista dissident Alejandro Martinez Cuenca, a cable depicted Lashtar as a strategic figure used to transfer money from the Libyan government into Ortega’s political campaign.

However, people close to Lashtar disagree with Trivelli’s opinion and deemed the information is false. An undisclosed source cited by La Nación said Lashtar ate breakfast, lunch and dinner with opposing political leaders in Nicaragua.

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