WASHINGTON — The Tunisian government will allow the United States access to a suspect in the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, two senators said Friday.
Republicans Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina, and Saxby Chambliss, of Georgia, said they’ve been pushing the Tunisian government for access to Ali Ani al Harzi.
Earlier this week, in a letter to Tunisia’s government, Graham wrote that “providing access to this suspect is of the highest importance to me and many other members of Congress.” He said, the Tunisian response was “of the utmost importance and could have profound impacts on the relations between our two countries moving forward.”
Chambliss last week met with the FBI to emphasize the need for direct access to this suspect and any other individuals related to the Benghazi attacks that killed U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three other Americans on Sept. 11.
The senators said U.S. investigators would interview the suspect under Tunisian supervision. The Tunisian government has confirmed it arrested the 28-year-old Tunisian and that he was in custody in Tunis.
“Allowing American investigators in person access will make the interview more meaningful and is a welcome breakthrough in our efforts to find the perpetrators of the Benghazi Consulate attacks,” the senators said in a statement.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland would not comment on the development.
“I’m not going to be speaking about any aspect of the requirements to bring to justice those who were responsible for the Benghazi attack,” she said. “I’m not going to speak about our conversations with other governments. I’m not going to speak about what we’re learning, or who we may be pursuing along with the Libyans.”
Deputy Secretary of State William Burns met Thursday with Hedi Ben Abbes, a senior Tunisian foreign ministry official, but there were no details on the meeting.
Graham is the ranking Republican on the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that oversees American assistance to Tunisia, and Chambliss, is the vice-chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
The FBI would not comment on any plans to interview al Harzi.