On 13 August, the General National Maritime Transport Company (GNMTC) issued a statement denouncing the kidnapping of its CEO Khaled al-Tawati by unidentified gunmen. It said they intercepted his car after he left the GNMTC headquarters in the Ghout al-Shaal area of western Tripoli, threatened him with weapons and took him to an unknown destination. The statement warned that the kidnapping ‘harms the company’s reputation and its relations with its customers at home and abroad’, noting that the GNMTC had so far remained free from dispute and conflict. The GNMTC said it had taken all legal proceedings and called on the Government of National Unity (GNU) Prime Minister Abdul Hameed Dabaiba, the Ministry of Interior and all security agencies to identify and arrest the armed group responsible.
The following day, the GNMTC said in a second statement that the employees of the company are freezing all company activity until the relevant authorities secure his release. It said that ‘it has become clear that the purpose of this action is to blackmail and exploit the company’, stressing the financial and operational success the company has achieved in recent years under Tawati. The statement stressed that the GMNTC holds the state officials responsible for ‘any consequences or damages that may directly affect the public interest, considering that the GNMTC is one of the most important state-owned strategic institutions for its effective contribution in providing oil derivatives to the Libyan citizen and serving state institutions in all of Libya.’ Employees also protested outside the GNMTC headquarters calling for Tawati’s release.
On 15 August, the House of Representatives (HoR) called for the release of Tawati as part of a longer statement calling for a deescalation of the clashes in Tripoli. At the time of writing on 15 August, Tawati had not been released.