Cablegate: Update On Released Regime Critic Dr. Idriss Boufayed and Planned Medical Travel
DE RUEHTRO #0882/01 3181206
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O P 131206Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4101
INFO RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 1276
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0920
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0607
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RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 0654
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RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI 4623
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TRIPOLI 000882
DEPT FOR NEA/MAG (NARDI, JOHNSON) AND DRL/NESCA (JOHNSTONE, KWIRAM)
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/10/2018
TAGS: PHUM PREL PGOV LY
SUBJECT: UPDATE ON RELEASED REGIME CRITIC DR. IDRISS BOUFAYED AND PLANNED MEDICAL TRAVEL REF: A) NARDI-GODFREY EMAIL 10/27/2008, B) TRIPOLI 472, C) TRIPOLI 819, D) TRIPOLI 851
CLASSIFIED BY: Chris Stevens, CDA, Embassy Tripoli, U.S. Dept of State. REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)
1. (C) Summary: The Qadhafi Development Foundation (QDF) has reportedly obtained a passport and is finalizing travel permission for self-described regime critic Dr. Idriss Boufayed, who was recently released on humanitarian grounds from a 25 year prison term in light of his advanced lung cancer. The QDF will coordinate and pay for Boufayed's travel, and will facilitate (and possibly also underwrite) medical treatment abroad. The QDF is anxious that Boufayed travel quickly - perhaps in part out of concern that delays in granting his humanitarian release contributed to the seriousness of his medical condition - and is waiting for a decision from him on where he wishes to go for medical treatment and when. Boufayed is reportedly feeling better and is receiving visitors and paying social calls to neighbors. Reports that the QDF helped Boufayed obtain a passport and stands ready to facilitate his travel abroad for medical treatment represent a welcome development; however, we've been here before with respect to the QDF claiming positive intervention that later proved to be untrue, particularly in the case of detained human rights activist Fathi al-Jahmi. End summary.
2. (C) Pef ref A, P/E Chief met with xxxxxxxxxxxx(strictly protect) on November 10 to follow up on the case of self-described regime critic Dr. Idriss Boufayed, who was sentenced to 25 years of imprisonment earlier this year in connection with planning a peaceful demonstration (ref B). Boufayed was released on humanitarian grounds on October 8 from the Sabratha Hospital, where he was undergoing treatment for advanced lung cancer (ref C), and returned to his family home in Gharyan.
3. (C) xxxxxxxxxxxx visited Gharyan on November 6 and met with Idriss Boufayed's brother, Juma'a Boufayed. (Note: Juma'a Boufayed himself was arrested in February 2007, shortly after his brother and eleven other individuals were arrested on the eve of a planned peaceful demonstration in Tripoli's Green Square. As reported ref B, Juma'a Boufayed was released on/about May 27, shortly before a state security court convicted his brother and 10 others of planning to overthrow the government and conducting unauthorized meetings with representatives of a foreign government. End note.) xxxxxxxxxxxx said the Qadhafi Development Foundation (QDF), which had helped facilitate Idriss Boufayed's release on humanitarian grounds, had secured a passport for Boufayed (who is not yet in possession of it) and was in the process of obtaining permission from Libyan security organizations for him to travel abroad for medical treatment. xxxxxxxxxxxx did not anticipate problems with respect to exit permissions; Boufayed's name was removed from airport and land border crossing watchlists when he was granted humanitarian release. The QDF will coordinate entry visas for the (presumably European) country in which Boufayed decides to seek treatment, and will also facilitate travel arrangements and medical appointments. Tarnish said the QDF was still discussing whether to pay for Boufayed's medical treatment (it has already agreed to defray his travel expenses), and said he thought it would.
4. (C) Noting that the QDF's Human Rights Committee Director, Saleh Abdulsalam Saleh, was personally involved in the case, Tarnish said the QDF was anxious that Boufayed travel quickly and was only waiting for a decision from him as to where he wanted to travel for medical treatment and when. (Comment: Boufayed's medical condition is reportedly grave and we've heard reports that the GOL would prefer that he not die in Libya to minimize potential public discontent. The QDF may be anxious to expedite his travel to mitigate charges that the GOL's failure to grant humanitarian release earlier contributed to his decline. End comment.) Addressing rumors that Boufayed might be discouraged from traveling to Switzerland (where he resided for a number of years) in light of ongoing Libyan-Swiss contretemps (ref D) , xxxxxxxxxxxx said the QDF would do all it could if that was where Boufayed decided he wanted to go.
5. (C) Citing Juma'a Boufayed, xxxxxxxxxxxx said Idriss Boufayed's medical condition and mental health had improved since his release. Visits to him were initially limited after his return home because his health was fragile and his family did not want large numbers of visitors in their home; however, Boufayed is currently able to receive visitors at will and has begun paying TRIPOLI 00000882 002 OF 002 social visits to neighbors' homes as well. xxxxxxxxxxxx said a number of regime critics, journalists and members of Libya's nascent civil society have quietly made the trip to Gharyan in recent weeks to see him. xxxxxxxxxxxx is scheduled to visit Boufayed next week and will give us a readout. xxxxxxxxxxxx has not received a response to the petition it submitted in October to the QDF asking that it urge the GOL to release the other 10 individuals convicted in the Boufayed case, who remain in prison. Separately, U.K. Poloff David Clay told us on November 9 that not all EU capitals had weighed in yet on whether to agree to a joint demarche to the GOL requesting access to Jamal al-Hajj, a Danish-Libyan dual citizen who was among the individuals arrested with Boufayed.
6. (C) Comment: The news that the QDF has helped Boufayed obtain a passport and stands ready to facilitate and perhaps underwrite his travel abroad for medical treatment is a welcome development; however, we've been here before with respect to the QDF claiming positive intervention that later proved to be untrue, particularly in the case of detained human rights activist Fathi al-Jahmi. xxxxxxxxxxxx's planned visit to Idriss Boufayed next week should afford another point of reference from which to gauge the likelihood that medical travel will in fact be facilitated. End comment. STEVENS