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Libyan woman faces lawsuit over rape claim

Iman al-Obaidi has not been seen since Saturday when she told journalists at a Tripoli hotel of her rape. Iman al-Obaidi has not been seen since Saturday when she told journalists at a Tripoli hotel of her rape. (Reuters)
By Liz Sly
Washington Post / March 30, 2011

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TRIPOLI, Libya — The Libyan woman who burst into a Tripoli hotel to tell journalists she had been raped is now facing slander charges filed by the men she accused, a government official said yesterday.

Iman al-Obaidi has not been seen since she was dragged by security guards and government minders from the Rixos Hotel Saturday to prevent her from recounting her story of rape by 15 militiamen to reporters staying at the hotel.

Now, in the latest twist to the saga that turned her into a symbol of defiance against the regime of Moammar Khadafy, she is being sued by her alleged assailants, said Moussa Ibrahim, a government spokesman. One of them, he said earlier, is the son of a high-ranking Libyan official.

“A legal case is being brought by the boys who she accused of rape,’’ he said. “It is a grave offense to accuse someone of a sexual offense.’’

Ibrahim has given conflicting accounts of Obaidi’s fate since she was last seen being driven away from the hotel in an unmarked car. Initially, he said she was drunk and mentally unstable; then he said she was a prostitute. Later, he said she had been freed.

Obaidi’s denied that, saying they did not know where she was, and that they would be happy for her to be interviewed by reporters. They and said they had been offered money and a house if she would agree to change her story.

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