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Mother "offered cash" if Libya woman changes story

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Tue, 29 Mar 2011 03:42 GMT
Author: Reuters
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LONDON, March 29 (Reuters) - The mother of a Libyan woman who said she had been raped by pro-government militiamen said she had been asked to convince her daughter to retract the allegations in return for her freedom and cash or a new home.

Eman al-Obaidi burst into a hotel full of foreign journalists in Tripoli on Saturday and told them, weeping, how she had been held for two days and raped by 15 militiamen loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. [ID:nLDE72P06L]

After being intimidated by security men and hotel staff, who also beat journalists trying to interview her in the restaurant of the hotel, she was bundled into a car and driven away.

Her allegations have not been independently verified. The government said on Sunday Obaidi had been released and she was with her family. [ID:nLDE72Q0OA]

Her mother, Aisha Ahmad, told journalists she had been contacted by the authorities about her daughter and how she could be freed.

"Last night at 3, they called from Gaddafi's compound and asked me to convince my daughter Eman to change what she said, and we will set her free immediately and you can take anything you and your children would ask for," she said, according to Britain's Sky News, which broadcast her interview with an English translation late on Monday.

"Money, new home, just ask your daughter to change what she has said. I told my daughter, keep silent," she said, holding a picture of Obaidi to the camera.

It was not immediately clear when the interview was filmed.

Ahmad said Obaidi had been "mistreated by those criminals and cheaters, Gaddafi and his followers".

"Eman was kidnapped in front of the camera," she said.

"She was trying to appear to the world, she wanted to tell them what was happening in Misrata, in Benghazi and the east. She wanted to reveal that."

Wadad Omar, who said she was her cousin, said on Sunday that Obaidi was first arrested after taking part in a protest in the early days of the uprising in the western city of Zawiyah. The revolt erupted in mid-February.

Residents in Benghazi, bastion of the insurgency against Gaddafi, staged a demonstration in support of Obaidi on Sunday.

(Additional reporting by Karolina Tagaris; Writing by Alison Williams; Editing by Daniel Magnowski)

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