Libyan woman deported from Qatar
BENGHAZI , Libya — A Libyan woman who said she was gang-raped by Moammar Khadafy’s troops was deported from Qatar, where she sought refuge, and is now in Benghazi, a UN official said yesterday.
Her sudden expulsion cast light again on one of the most widely covered incidents of alleged abuses by Khadafy’s forces, as NATO continued its relentless nightly bombing raids on Libyan military and bases, backing rebels who are trying to unseat Khadafy after a four-decade dictatorship.
The US government expressed concern yesterday for the safety of the Libyan woman, Imad al-Obeidi.
In March, Obeidi rushed into Tripoli’s Rixos Hotel, where all foreign correspondents are forced to stay while covering the part of Libya under Khadafy’s control. She shouted out her story of being stopped at a checkpoint, dragged away, and gang-raped by soldiers.
As she spoke emotionally, and as reporters recorded her words in sound and picture, government minders, whose job is to escort reporters around the area, jumped her and dragged her away.
She disappeared for several days, then appeared in Tunisia and later Qatar. She was heard from little until yesterday, when she was suddenly expelled from Qatar and ended up in Benghazi, the Libyan rebels’ de facto capital. No explanation was forthcoming from Qatar.
Rebel spokesman Jalal el-Gallal said Obeidi arrived in Benghazi by plane. “She’s welcome to stay, this is her country,’’ Gallal said.
The UN Refugee Agency’s Sybella Wilkes said that Obeidi should have been allowed to stay in Qatar and that her deportation runs contrary to international law.
Obeidi “is a recognized refugee, and we don’t consider there is any good reason for her deportation,’’ Wilkes said.