Libyan woman who claimed rape escapes to Tunisia

FT journalist Charles Clover, center top, attempts to stop a Libya Ministry of Information official from grabbing Iman Al-Obeidi, bottom right, who alleges she spent two days in detention after being arrested at a checkpoint in Tripoli, Libya, and also alleges that she was sexually assaulted by up to 15 men while in custody in Tripoli Saturday March 26, 2011, after storming into the hotel's breakfast room to show her wounds to foreign media. A scuffle between hotel employees, information ministry officials and plain clothed police trying to grab Al-Obeidi and stop the foreign media and press from filming her. Two cameras were smashed on the ground and at least one reporter was beaten and kicked. Al-Obeidi was later taken in a car to an undisclosed location. bottom left is a foreign journalist.(AP Photo/Jerome Delay) Jerome Delay

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.

  • CBS News Staff

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