International

Iman Al-Obeidi: 'I Want My Freedom'

Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, on Iman al-Obeidi

Iman al-Obeidi has now had the chance to speak with journalists — without officials from Moammar Gadhafi's regime listening in — about the rapes and torture she says she endured at the hands of men loyal to Gadhafi.

Iman al-Obeidi shouted as she told her story at the Rixos hotel in Tripoli on Saturday (March 26, 2011). i i

Iman al-Obeidi shouted as she told her story at the Rixos hotel in Tripoli on Saturday (March 26, 2011). Jerome Delay/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Jerome Delay/AP
Iman al-Obeidi shouted as she told her story at the Rixos hotel in Tripoli on Saturday (March 26, 2011).

Iman al-Obeidi shouted as she told her story at the Rixos hotel in Tripoli on Saturday (March 26, 2011).

Jerome Delay/AP

NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, accompanied by a correspondent from The Associated Press, interviewed Obeidi in Tripoli on Monday and reported about the conversation on Morning Edition today.

As Lourdes cautions, because journalists are unable to report freely in Tripoli, NPR cannot verify Obeidi's claims. Gadhafi regime spokesmen have tried to cast doubt on her story. But the 28-year-old woman offers graphic details, and Lourdes says that "the marks on her body from her ordeal are still visible."

Obeidi, whose story came to light when she made a dramatic appearance on March 26 at a Tripoli hotel where journalists are staying, says she is still being harassed and prevented from leaving Tripoli to rejoin her family in eastern Libya. "I want my freedom. I want my family," she says.

If you need to catch up on Obeidi's story, we've posted about it several times. This post has considerable background and additional links.

Update at 8:45 a.m. ET. The Campaign To Smear Obeidi.

Lourdes sends along additional reporting about what Obeidi says she has had to endure:

Iman has been dealing with a concerted campaign to discredit her and her testimony. Among the most difficult, she says, is a purported video of what the government says is her dancing suggestively. It's intended to show her as a women of loose morals.

Iman, though, has two very distinctive physical characteristics — she only has nine fingers and she has scars on her stomach from an operation, both of which she displayed to us. The woman in the video has 10 fingers and none of the abdominal scarring.

One of the hardest things, she says, is trying to defend her good name. But she says when she goes into the street some people thank her for speaking out and taxi drivers over her rides for free.

Still, the smear campaign has had an effect and others shy away from her too. She says the support of international organizations and reporters has been crucial. She doesn't want the world to forget about her.

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