Libya rebels helping alleged rape victim
Benghazi - Libyan rebels said on Saturday they are looking after the woman allegedly raped by soldiers loyal to Muammar Gaddafi and who fled to Qatar but was deported back to the north African country.
"We are protecting and helping (Iman al-Obaidi) ... She is a Libyan citizen," said Mustafa Abdel Jalil of the National Transitional Council in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi.
He said the council met Obeidi on Friday but was unaware of the reasons for her expulsion from Qatar, a decision which drew condemnation from the United States and the United Nations.
"We appreciate that she exposed the real face of Gaddafi's regime. She is free to travel in Libya as she pleases and we have no objection should she wish to seek asylum in another country," Jalil told reporters.
Vincent Cochetel, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees representative in Washington, said a Qatari military plane flew Obaidi to Benghazi on Thursday and that she was staying in a hotel of the eastern Libyan port city.
US State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner on Friday said Obaidi had expressed "her fear of returning to Libya".
"There are people (in Libya) who have an interest in shutting her up... Her fear is well founded in our opinion," he added.
A Libyan rebel official told AFP last month that Obeidi had escaped from Libya to Qatar with the help of rebels.
Obeidi attracted international media attention when she stormed into the Rixos hotel on March 26, threw open her coat to reveal scars and bruises on her body to expose her ordeal.
But as she screamed: "Film me, film me, show the whole world all they did to me," she was dragged off by Libyan security guards amid scenes of mayhem as journalists were shoved aside in their effort to intervene.
Obeidi said she had been stopped at a Tripoli checkpoint because she was from Benghazi. "They tied me up and abused me for two days," she said.