Code War: Another Town Joins Kaddafy Tent Flap

Libyan leader to "entertain" at Trump's swanky estate

By Hasani Gittens and Victoria Cavaliere
|  Wednesday, Sep 23, 2009  |  Updated 11:32 AM EDT
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Code War: Another Town Joins Kaddafy Tent Flap

ASSOCIATED PRESS

People gather around a tent Wednesday on a property known as Seven Springs estate owned by real estate magnate Donald Trump in Bedford, N.Y.

The Libyan government has pitched a tent at the swanky Westchester estate owned by Donald Trump during Moammar Kaddafy's first-ever visit to the United States -- but local officials are trying to knock it down.

A laywer for the town of Bedford, about 43 miles north of Manhattan, told The Associated Press that officials put the kibbosh on any work at the site late Tuesday.

"We believe the erection of a tent on the ... property violates several codes and laws of the town of Bedford," Attorney Joel Sachs told the AP. "There is no such thing as diplomatic immunity when it comes to complying with local laws and ordinances. This is a private piece of property and they have to comply with the laws of this municipality."

Sachs said he gave the order to the property's caretaker because workers constructing the tent did not speak English. Town officials will follow up today to enforce the order.

Earlier a State Department official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of diplomatic sensitivity and protocol concerns, said Trump's property was obtained for the duration of this weeks' U.N. General Assembly and would just be used for "entertaining." The official said no one would be staying there overnight.

Kaddafy's air-conditioned Bedouin-style tent, which he normally takes with him on international visits, hasn't been well received in any possible location.

The "entertainment" tent appeared to have finally found a home on the lavish Seven Springs property in Bedford that Trump has owned since 1995,  sources said. 

The Trump Organization said  the estate was leased short-term to Middle Eastern partners. Trump's group says the organization is looking into whether the group was connected to Kaddafy.

Westchester County Executive Andy Spano said he was not aware of Kaddafy's plans, but isn't pleased if the tenting rumors are true.

Kaddafy has had a hard time finding a place to stay in the New York area ahead of his visit for the U.N. General Assembly.  He is due to make his first-ever address at the GA on Wednesday.

Kaddafy tried to weasel his way into two upscale mansions in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, a published report said Tuesday.

An aide to the Libyan leader allegedly claimed to be a member of Sri Lanka's diplomatic delegation when calling a Riverdale developer to rent a property in Villanova heights, according to the New York Daily News.

When the would-be landlord found out who the tenant was really going to be he shut down the deal.

"It's just not good to deal with liars from terrorist countries," developer John Fitzgerald, told the paper.

Apparently, the Libyan leader's aides gave the impression they were part of the delegation from Sri Lanka.

"I asked about Sri Lanka, and he said, 'We're not from there,' but wouldn't reveal where they were from," attorney John Daly told the News.

"Eventually he said he was from the Middle East, and then he said, 'We're from Libya,' [and] that Mr. Kaddafy wanted to put up the tends so he could come up after the sessions."

That was when the deal was broken.

"I mean, the guy ultimately condones terrorism," Fitzgerald said. "We didn't think it was appropriate to rent to him."

Kaddafy, who held a massive homecoming celebration for Lockerbie bomber Abdel Baset al-Megrahi when he was released last month, had originally wanted to stay in a tent in Central Park, but when that idea was nixed he planned to pitch a tent a a home in Englewood, N.J., owned by the Libyan mission. Angry protests in the neighborhood shut down that idea as well.

He was set to rent a room at the Pierre hotel, but protests put a stop to that as well, and next planned to stay in the Libyan Mission on East 48th Street.

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