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Canadian woman accused in Gadhafi plot claims she was set up

Cynthia Vanier is being held in a Mexican jail on suspicion of attempting to help members of the Gadhafi family out of Libya as the Libyan regime was crumbling. CBC's Dave Seglins talks with Vanier about her situation.

A Canadian citizen being held in a Mexican jail on suspicion of attempting to help members of the Gadhafi family out of Libya as the Libyan regime was crumbling says she's been set up and called on her government to speak out.

"I've lost a lot," Cynthia Vanier told CBC. "My family suffered, as have all our families."

Vanier has been locked up in a prison in Chetumel, along the border with Belize, for five months, charged with helping finance planes, obtaining fake passports and attempting to smuggle members of the Gadhafi family out of Libya.

One of Moammar Gadhafi's sons, Saadi, managed to escape to Niger after his father was toppled. Vanier denies she ever met Saadi.


The woman showed CBC signed contracts for work in Libya through a partnership between her company, Vanier Consulting, and Canadian engineering and construction firm SNC-Lavalin, which had construction projects underway in Libya before the Gadhafi regime fell. She says her company was hired for fact finding, consulting work, arranging planes and planning how to move employees back to Libya once the conflict died down. 

Vanier was arrested in November while she was in Mexico setting up a water meeting for SNC-Lavalin. She says prosecutors tried her in the media before she was even charged.

In a meeting with President Barrack Obama and Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Washington last week, Mexican President Felipe Calderon called Vanier's arrest a success.

"Ive been basically accused of being a criminal by the leader of this country when I haven't gone through the process yet," Vanier told CBC. "So how can Canada sit back and say it's OK?"

Vanier is appealing her charges and awaiting trial.

Gadhafi was killed in an Oct. 20 fight between his supporters and rebels in the town of Sirte, where he was born and which was a stronghold of his supporters.

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