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Cablegate: Self-Described Regime Critic Idriss Boufayed Released

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OO RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHTRO #0819/01 2881719
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 141719Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3993
INFO RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS IMMEDIATE 0627
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO IMMEDIATE 1237
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS IMMEDIATE 0775
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT IMMEDIATE 0719
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI 4514

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TRIPOLI 000819

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/14/2018
TAGS: PHUM PGOV PREL FR LY SZ DA
SUBJECT: SELF-DESCRIBED REGIME CRITIC IDRISS BOUFAYED RELEASED

REF: A. (A) TRIPOLI 332, B) TRIPOLI 472, C) TRIPOLI 592, D) TRIPOLI 541, E) TRIPOLI 158, F) TRIPOLI 159, G) TRIPOLI 160), H) TRIPOLI B. 161, I) TRIPOLI 165 TRIPOLI 00000819 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: Regime critic Idriss Boufayed, who was sentenced to 25 years in prison in June and who is suffering from cancer, has been released from custody on humanitarian grounds and has returned home. He may seek to secure travel documents (seized at the time of his arrest) and permission to travel abroad for medical treatment. The Qadhafi Development Foundation (QDF) played a role in urging his release; the Human Rights Society of Libya (HRSL), which is affiliated with the QDF, is monitoring Boufayed's case and has offered to help him secure travel documents and permission to travel. 10 other individuals convicted and sentenced in connection with Boufayed's case remain in custody. EU missions are waiting for permission from Brussels to collectively demarche the Government of Libya (GOL) to request consular access to one of them, a dual Danish-Libyan national. The HRSL has petitioned the QDF to urge the GOL to release the 10 other individuals; QDF Chairman Saif al-Islam al-Qadhafi is currently reviewing the petition. While Boufayed's release is a positive gesture, some Libyan interlocutors have noted that he was essentially let go to avoid criticism of the regime if he were to succumb to cancer while still in the GOL's custody. End summary. BOUFAYED RETURNS HOME 2. (C) Libyan opposition website Libya al-Mustaqbal reported October 8 that Libyan authorities allowed detained regime critic Dr. Idriss Boufayed to leave the Sabratha Hospital, where he had been held and undergone treatment for lung cancer since his transfer from prison earlier this year (ref A). xxxxxxxxxxxx, told us October 12 that he had spoken with members of Boufayed's family, who confirmed that Boufayed had returned to the family's home in Gharyan on October 8. xxxxxxxxxxxx said intervention by the Qadhafi Development Foundation (QDF), chaired by Saif al-Islam al-Qadhafi, son of Muammar al-Qadhafi, had helped facilitate Boufayed's release on humanitarian grounds. Boufayed was convicted on June 10 of planning to foment a rebellion against the "people's authority system" and meeting with an official from a foreign government, and was sentenced to 25 years in prison (details ref B). MAY SEEK TO TRAVEL ABROAD FOR MEDICAL TREATMENT 3. (C) xxxxxxxxxxxx said Boufayed, whose medical condition was described by family members as "poor", was considering whether to try to travel abroad for medical treatment. xxxxxxxxxxxx believed Boufayed was inclined to do so. A complication was that Boufayed's passport and identity documents were confiscated at the time of his arrest in February 2007. xxxxxxxxxxxx said he offered the assistance of the HRSL in helping Boufayed obtain his passport and identity documents and permission to exit the country. Noting that Boufayed was very weak, xxxxxxxxxxxx lamented that he had not been granted a humanitarian parole sooner after his conviction in June to allow him to benefit from specialized medical treatment that could not be obtained in Libya. In remarks to the press on October 14, the QDF's Human Rights Committee Director, Saleh Abdulsalam Saleh, gave media interviews in which he said the QDF would facilitate Boufayed's travel to Switzerland for cancer treatment; however, ongoing Swiss-Libyan contretemps related to the July arrest of Hannibal al-Qadhafi (ref C), son of Muammar al-Qadhafi, could hamper those efforts. EU CONTEMPLATES FURTHER ACTION; HRSL URGES ACTION TO RELEASE OTHER PRISONERS 4. (C) French and British diplomats told us EU heads of mission had agreed to a joint demarche to the GOL requesting consular access to Jamal al-Hajj, a Danish-Libyan dual citizen who was among the individuals arrested along with Boufayed. EU officials in Brussels are currently reviewing the proposed joint demarche, which would call for consular access to Boufayed, information on the status of the appeal of his conviction and possibly urge his release. It is not expected that missions in Tripoli will receive a decision on the joint demarche by weeks' end. As reported refs B and D, EU member missions previously demarched the GOL to urge Idriss Boufayed's release and consular access to Jamal al-Hajj; however, they have not/not raised the cases of the other members of the group convicted in connection with the case. Separately, xxxxxxxxxxxx told us October 14 that his organization had submitted a petition to the QDF asking that the organization intervene to urge the GOL to release the other individuals convicted in connection with the case. xxxxxxxxxxxx argued in the petition that gross improprieties in authorities' investigation of the case and the excessive TRIPOLI 00000819 002.2 OF 002 sentences justified a review of their case, if not an outright pardon. xxxxxxxxxxxx told CDA Saif al-Islam al-Qadhafi is currently considering the petition. BACKGROUND 5. (C) Boufayed is a long-time critic of Libyan leader Muammar al-Qadhafi, and directed a small opposition group called the National Union for Reform during 16 years of exile in Switzerland. He returned to Libya in September 2006 and was briefly detained in November and December 2006. 14 self-described dissidents and regime critics were arrested on/about February 16, 2007 on the eve of staging a peaceful public demonstration in Tripoli's Green Square to protest Libyan authorities' violent suppression of a demonstration in Benghazi a year earlier. The arrests came shortly after Idriss Boufayed and al-Mahdi Humaid met with an Emboff to discuss the planned demonstration (see refs E-G and H-I (NOTAL) for details on the arrest and the GOL's reaction to Emboff's meeting with dissidents). Eleven members of the group, including Boufayed, 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 (see ref B for details on sentences). Juma'a Boufayed, brother of Idriss Boufayed, and Adel Humaid were released in late May and early June 2008, respectively. Abdulrahman al-Qutawi has not been seen in prison or at trial proceedings since he was arrested with Juma'a Boufayed in February 2007. Opposition websites have alleged that he died in police custody while being interrogated shortly after he was taken into custody. 6. (C) Comment: While Boufayed's release is a positive gesture, some Libyan interlocutors have noted that he was essentially let go to avoid criticism of the regime if he were to succumb to cancer while still in the GOL's custody. The xxxxxxxxxxxxstressed that six months elapsed between the QDF's announcement that it had facilitated Boufayed's transfer from prison in Tripoli to the Sabratha Hospital (60 km west of Tripoli) for treatment and his ultimate release to return home. End comment. GODFREY

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