Libyan woman who claimed rape escapes to Tunisia

The scene at the Rixos hotel in Tripoli on March 26, 2011, when journalists tried to stop Libyan government agents from forcibly removing a distraught woman, Iman Al-Obeidi, who was telling reporters she had been arrested and gang-raped by soldiers from Muammar Qaddafi's army. Al-Obeidi was taken away and threatened with charges but was eventually released. She has now escaped Libya into Tunisia.
AP Photo/Jerome Delay

The Libyan woman whose claims to the world's press that she was detained and raped by Muammar Qaddafi's soldiers led to her being tackled and forcibly removed from a Tripoli hotel by government agents, has escaped Libya into Tunisia.

In an exclusive CNN interview, Iman Al-Obeidi said she fled the country fearing for her safety.

She said she had crossed the border into Tunisia with the aid of a defecting military officer and his family. She was disguised with a traditional head covering.

Along her route the military car she was riding in was stopped several times at checkpoints but was allowed to continue.

She was met at the border by diplomats who drove her to the French Embassy in Tunis, where she is being protected.

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Al-Obeidi told CNN she has not yet decided her next move, although she would like to see her family. Her parents remain in rebel-held Tobruk; she also has relatives who have escaped into Egypt.

CNN reports that Al-Obeidi's parents were "overjoyed" to learn of her escape. Her father, Atiq Al-Obeidi, told CNN he believed Qaddafi loyalists "would do the worst to her, given his past," if she remained in the country.

She had reportedly been targeted for harassment ever since the March 26 incident which brought worldwide attention to her plight.

Distraught, al-Obeidi had entered a restaurant at the Rixos hotel in Tripoli and told foreign reporters that government troops had gang-raped her.

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She claimed that troops had detained her at a checkpoint, tied her up, abused her, then led her away to be raped by 15 men. She revealed to reporters wounds she claimed were the result of their assault.

Al-Obeidi was then tackled by waitresses and government minders and rushed from the scene. A government spokesman told reporters that she was drunk and a prostitute, but then back-tracked, and promised that an investigation into her allegations would be undertaken.

Last month al-Obeidi told CNN the investigation has not gotten far.

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