• News

Libyan prisoner of conscience released

Libyan prisoner of conscience Idriss Boufayed was released by the Libyan authorities on Wednesday 8 October. An outspoken critic of Mu’ammar al-Qadhafi and secretary general of the Libyan organisation National Union of Reform, Idriss Boufayed was arrested on 16 February 2007 for trying to organize a peaceful demonstration against the Libyan government. He was released on humanitarian grounds after being diagnosed with lung cancer in May 2008. There were concerns that he was not receiving appropriate medical treatment and that he would need to travel abroad for treatment unavailable in Libya. Amnesty International welcomes the release of Idriss Boufayed but stresses that it must be unconditional and that he should be allowed to travel abroad for medical treatment if he wishes. Arrested the day before the demonstration was to take place, Idriss Boufayed was detained incommunicado until 24 June 2007. He was then brought before a court and charged with "attempting to overthrow the political system" and "communication with enemy powers." On 10 June 2008, Idriss Boufayed was sentenced to 25 years imprisonment by the State Security Court in a hearing which did not meet standards for fair trial. Amnesty International is also concerned about the continued detention of the ten other men involved in organizing the demonstration. The organization considers them to be prisoners of conscience who have been sentenced solely for the peaceful exercise of their rights to freedom of expression and assembly. Jamal el-Haji was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment, while Ahmed Youssef al-Obaidi and the brothers al-Mahdi Saleh Hmeed, Faraj Saleh Hmeed, and al-Sadeq Saleh Hmeed were sentenced to 15 years imprisonment. Farid Mohammed al-Zwai, Alaa al-Drissi and Bashir Qasem al-Hares were sentenced to six years imprisonment each, Ali Saleh Hmeed to six and a half years and al-Sadiq Qeshoot to seven years imprisonment. Amnesty International also remains seriously concerned about Abdelrahman Al Qateewy, whose whereabouts remain unknown since he was first arrested in connection with the same demonstration in February 2007.