Global General

Libyan woman who claimed rape leaves for US

Updated: 2011-06-06 16:57
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BENGHAZI - A Libyan woman who claimed she was raped by Gadhafi troops has left Libya on her way to the United States, her sister said Sunday.

Marwa al-Obeidi said her sister Iman was flown out of Benghazi early Sunday morning. It was not immediately known where she was going in the US.

Wearing 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 knew 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," Marwa told The Associated Press.

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It appeared difficult for their mother, Aisha bin Ismail, 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," bin Ismail told The Associated Press.

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

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

As she spoke emotionally and as photographers and reporters recorded her words, government minders, whose job is to escort reporters around the area, jumped her and dragged her away.

She disappeared for several days, then turned up in Tunisia and later Qatar. She was rarely heard from until Thursday, when she was suddenly expelled from Qatar and ended up in Benghazi. Qatar offered no explanation.

Al-Obeidi has said she was targeted by Gadhafi's troops because she is from Benghazi, the rebel stronghold. Her rape claim could not be independently verified. The Associated Press identifies only rape victims who volunteer their names.

Marwa al-Obeidi told The Associated Press that a human rights group aided by US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton arranged for Iman and their father to travel in a private plane to Washington, D.C. by way of Malta and Austria.