18 October 2005 :President George W. Bush urged Libya to free five Bulgarian nurses sentenced to death on charges of infecting hundreds of Libyan children with the HIV virus.
"The position of the United States is the nurses ought to be free," Bush told reporters during an Oval Office meeting with visiting Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov.
The nurses had been convicted in May 2004 of deliberately infecting more than 400 children at a hospital in Benghazi. They insisted they were innocent and that the only evidence against them were confessions extracted under torture. Bush said he and Parvanov discussed the issue at length.
"We have made our position known to the Libyan government. There should be no confusion in the Libyan government's mind that those nurses should be, not only spared their life, but out of prison, and we'll continue to make that message perfectly clear," Bush said. A White House official said US diplomats had been giving the same message for months to the Libyan government, including leader Col. Muammar Gaddafi.