Where the US Embassy in Libya Used to Be

The late US Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens was visiting Benghazi when he was killed yesterday. But he was based out of the capital Tripoli. In 2011, the US opened a new embassy in Tripoli. Prior to that, and following the resumption of US diplomatic relations with the country in 2004, the US had a “special interests section” at the Bab el Corinthia Hotel in Tripoli. When I travelled to the country in 2006 to report — on the opening up of Libya, and a total solar eclipse of the sun that was passing through its desert — I happened to stay at the Corinthia.
On one of my last days in Tripoli, I arranged a background interview with then-interim Ambassador Gregory Berry. At that time, it seemed security at the hotel/embassy was impenetrable. You had to pass by security guards at the hotel’s reception area, gain permission to board the elevator, and special permission to go to floor 3 (the only public access point for the embassy offices on floors 3, 4 and 5).
Apparently, a newfound freedom for Libya seems to imply newfound risks.


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