CNN is reporting that Iman al-Obeidi, the woman who publicly declared that she'd been gang-raped by 15 Libyan militiamen--and was then hustled away by security forces, and not seen for several days--has resurfaced.
Al-Obeidi "is no longer in government custody and has spent time with family in Tripoli," according to CNN. The network spoke to al-Obeidi by telephone on Sunday and Monday.
Anderson Cooper has an interview with al-Obeidi scheduled for tonight at 10 p.m. EST on CNN.
Al-Obeidi came to the world's attention on March 26, when she burst into a hotel in Tripoli and told the assembled journalists that she'd been abducted and raped by militia forces sympathetic to Muammar Qaddafi.
She was taken away from the scene, and for a few days her whereabouts were a mystery. The Libyan government claimed it had released al-Obeidi, but her relatives said she was still in custody. As recently as April 2, according to CNN, al-Obeidi's father "said he had no idea where she was."
According to new statements from al-Obeidi, after government minders took her away, she spent 72 hours under interrogation. CNN reports that the people holding her "poured water on her face and threw food at her during the relentless questioning."
She was then turned loose, she says, but she can't leave the house where she's staying now. Per CNN: "When she tries to leave the house, officials chase her down and take her to a police station. But police don't know what to do with her since she is not charged with a crime, and she is released."
The account of her rape has not been independently verified, but her injuries on March 26--bruising, scars, and rope burns--matched her story, and eyewitnesses say they got the impression al-Obeidi was lucid and telling the truth.
Since then, she's become a powerful symbol of repression in Qaddafi's Libya. Financial Times journalist Charles Clover, who was in the Tripoli hotel and tried to protect al-Obeidi from security forces (and got thrown to the floor and kicked for his troubles), later wrote that because of her "bravery and desperation," the Libyan government could no longer pretend it had the sympathy of the people.
Al-Obeidi's outburst, wrote Clover, made it clear "that the war is being fought to protect the population from the regime."
We're keeping an eye on this story and will update with new information as it becomes available.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to email@example.com.