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Middle East
Libyan 'rape victim' heads to US for refuge
Iman al-Obeidi, who in March claimed she was assaulted by Gaddafi troops, is reportedly on her way to US.
Last Modified: 06 Jun 2011 05:48
Activists across the globe rallied in support of Iman al Obeidi after she narrated her ordeal [Gallo/Getty]

A Libyan woman who claimed she was raped by troops loyal to Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, and found refuge in Qatar only to be deported to Libya soon after, is on her way to the United States, her sister has said.

Marwa al-Obeidi said her sister Iman was flown out of Benghazi, a stronghold of Libyan rebels, early on Sunday morning.

It was not immediately known where she was going in the United States.

In gray pajamas and sitting with her mother in a cramped hotel room in Benghazi, Marwa al-Obeidi said she had spent the day crying because it was hard to see her sister leave, but that she felt this trip was best for her.

"We just want a chance for her to be treated psychologically and to rest. My sister has just been through so much," she told the Associated Press news agency.

It appeared difficult for Aisha bin Ismail, their mother, to speak about her daughter. She turned her head away to take a breath and hold back tears as she described Iman's last few weeks.

"Iman locked herself in her room in Doha and refused to leave the house. She would get nightmares and fall off the bed," she told AP.

Rape claim

In March, al-Obeidi rushed into Tripoli's Rixos Hotel where all foreign correspondents stay while covering the part of Libya under Gaddafi's control.

She shouted out her story of being stopped at a checkpoint, dragged away and gang-raped by soldiers.

As she spoke and reporters recorded her words, government minders, whose job is to escort reporters around the city, jumped on her and dragged her away.

She disappeared for several days, until she resurfaced first in Tunisia, and then in Qatar.

She was rarely heard from until Thursday, when she was suddenly deported from Qatar and ended up in Benghazi, reportedly suffering from bruises to her body.

The Qatari government offered no explanation and did not respond to calls.

Al-Obeidi has said she was targeted by Gaddafi's troops because she is from Benghazi, the rebel stronghold.

Her claims regarding her assault could not be independently verified.

'Happy for her'

The US state department had expressed concern for al-Obeidi's safety after she was deported from Qatar.

A UN human rights body said her deportation was a violation of international law because she was a recognised refugee.

Libyan authorities have alternately labelled al-Obeidi a drunk, a prostitute and a thief.

Marwa al-Obeidi maintained that Qatar was friendly with the family until the last few hours before deportation.

She said that Qatari authorities gave the family five hours notice to get on a military plane and leave Doha.

"Iman wanted to travel directly to America from Qatar, but for some logistical reasons Qatar wouldn't allow it. That's when they didn't treat us very nicely," she said.

Marwa al-Obeidi said Iman's main priority in the US would be to receive psychological treatment and to continue her studies.

"I am sure they will greet her with such warmth and kindness," she said.

"We are happy for her."

Source:
Agencies
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