Swiss banks freeze assets of Qaddafi and Co.

Muammar Qaddafi AP Photo/Samson Halieyesus

GENEVA - Switzerland ordered the immediate freeze Thursday of any Swiss assets belonging to Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi or his entourage, saying it wanted to prevent the possible misuse of state funds.

The Swiss government said it took the decision "in view of the developments" in Libya, where security forces have launched a violent crackdown against anti-government protesters.

Switzerland recently froze the Swiss assets of Tunisia's Zine Al Abidine Ben Ali and Egypt's Hosni Mubarak - but only after they had been deposed.

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The latest asset freeze comes as Qaddafi still clings to power in the face of growing international pressure to halt his forces' attempts to suppress anti-government protests that have spread to large parts of the country.

It is unclear if Qaddafi, his family or senior Libyan officials have any assets in Switzerland anymore. Libya withdrew most of its money from Swiss banks two years ago after the two countries became embroiled in a spat over the arrest of Gadhafi's son Hannibal in a Geneva hotel.

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