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Cablegate: Europeans Engage Gol On Boufayed Human Rights Case

VZCZCXRO2009
OO RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHTRO #0541/01 1901605
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O R 081605Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3653
INFO RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS 0542
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO 1142
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS 0708
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT 0654
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI 4162

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TRIPOLI 000541

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 7/8/2018
TAGS: PHUM PGOV PREL FR LY SZ DA
SUBJECT: EUROPEANS ENGAGE GOL ON BOUFAYED HUMAN RIGHTS CASE

REF: (A) TRIPOLI 472, (B) TRIPOLI 332, C) TRIPOLI 515 TRIPOLI 00000541 001.2 OF 002 CLASSIFIED BY: John T. Godfrey, CDA, U.S. Embassy Tripoli, Dept of State. REASON: 1.4 (b), (d) 1. (C) Summary: European Union (EU) governments remain concerned about the on-going detention cases of Idriss Boufayed, Jamal al-Hajj, and nine co-defendants following the group's June 10 conviction on charges related to their plans to stage a peaceful public demonstration in Tripoli (ref A). European missions are focused on securing humanitarian release for Boufayed, who is terminally ill with cancer, and obtaining consular access to al-Hajj, a Danish citizen; however, they do not/not intend to raise the cases of the other nine detainees. France, on behalf of the EU presidency, is keen to press the case through quiet diplomacy with the Qadhafi Development Foundation (QDF) and remains open to coordination with the U.S. End summary. 2. (C) French Ambassador Francois Gouyette chaired a meeting of EU ambassadors in Tripoli on June 17 to discuss a coordinated European response to the recent conviction and continued detention of Idriss Boufayed, Jamal al-Hajj, and nine other self-described regime critics. (Note: France represented the EU presidency in Libya on behalf of Slovenia, which does not have representation here, in the first half of 2008 and retains the presidency through the end of the year in its own right. End note.) The eleven individuals were convicted on June 10 of planning to foment a rebellion against the "people's authority system" and of meeting with an official from a foreign government; sentences ranged from 6 to 25 years imprisonment. Ambassador Gouyette had unsuccessfully approached MFA U/S for European Affairs Abdulati Obeidi about the case in early June. EU ambassadors agreed on June 17 that they would not/not raise the case again with the MFA. EU diplomats in Tripoli report that the Europeans have two principal interests in the case: 1) securing humanitarian parole for Idriss Boufayed, who is currently undergoing treatment for advanced lung cancer in Sabratha General Hospital (ref B and previous), and; 2) obtaining consular access to Jamal al-Hajj, who holds Danish citizenship. EU missions do not/not plan to raise the case of the nine other convicted individuals who remain in detention. 3. (C) The French and Swiss Ambassadors reportedly maintain an active dialogue with Abdulsalem Salah, Director of the QDF's Human Rights Committee and a key interlocutor on the Bulgarian medics case, on the Boufayed case. Swiss Ambassador Daniel von Muralt told the CDA on June 30 that he was "confident" Salah would be able to arrange Boufayed's release on humanitarian grounds; however, he conceded European diplomats had not/not approached Saleh concerning the other ten detainees (including Jamal al-Hajj). Saleh reportedly promised to facilitate a three-way meeting between von Muralt, the QDF, and Boufayed's attorney to discuss the case. Von Muralt said he plans to use the meeting with Boufayed's lawyer to ask Boufayed if he wants Switzerland to push the QDF to allow him to seek medical care abroad. Both the French and Swiss Embassies in Tripoli say they are open to coordination with the U.S. on any future approach to the Libyans on the Boufayed case. 4. (C) While EU Ambassadors plan to continue lobbying for Boufayed's release through the QDF, the French Ambassador intends to push for consular access to Jamal al-Hajj through the MFA Department of Consular Affairs. French diplomats have noted that repeated requests for consular access by Denmark have been denied; however, they remain optimistic that a recent personnel change in the MFA's consular office might prompt a reversal. Danish Honorary-Consul George Wallen told us his efforts to secure consular access, most recenlty in mid-June, had been flatly rejected by the GOL, which in its latest meeting with him justified its unwillingness to facilitate access to al-Hajj case to the re-publication in February 2008 of cartoons in Danish print media depicting the Prophet Muhammad. French Poloff Pierre-Antoine Molina privately conceded that the legal case behind the EU's request for consular access was weak since al-Hajj also has Libyan citizenship - France would not/not provide consular access to a dual Libyan-French national in a reciprocal situation. 5. (C) Comment: Post does not share the Europeans' optimism that the QDF will be able to facilitate the quick release of the ailing Idriss Boufayed, or that the MFA's consular office will ultimately provide access to Jamal al-Hajj; however, there are few viable alternatives to the EU's quiet diplomatic overtures. The QDF's involvement in the case has so far been limited to facilitating Idriss Boufayed's "release" from prison to a hospital for medical care on humanitarian grounds; however, in a striking parallel with the ongoing detention of human rights activist Fathi el-Jahmi (ref C and previous), opposition websites report that Boufayed remains under heavy guard at the Sabratha Hospital. While he has received family visits, he is not able to leave the hospital. By contrast with the el-Jahmi TRIPOLI 00000541 002.2 OF 002 case, in which European missions have expressed little interest, the EU's focus on the Boufayed case is high. European missions have historically avoided engaging with the GOL on human rights issues - their willingess to pursue a collective approach in the Boufayed case is a potentially hopeful sign. Post will continue to closely follow the EU's efforts on the Boufayed case; it is not clear that more direct U.S. engagement on this case would be helpful at this time. End comment. GODFREY

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