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Cablegate: Qadhafi Development Foundation Facilitates Visit to Detained Human Rights Activist Fathi El-Jahmi

VZCZCXRO6772
OO RUEHTRO
DE RUEHTRO #0960/01 3501950
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O P 151950Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4243
INFO RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 1340
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 0697
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 0841
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 0784
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0963
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0650
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI 4765

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 TRIPOLI 000960

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR NEA/MAG (JOHNSON, NARDI) AND DRL/NESCA (KWIRAM,
JOHNSTONE), NSC FOR YERGER

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/15/2018
TAGS: PREL PHUM PGOV LY
SUBJECT: QADHAFI DEVELOPMENT FOUNDATION FACILITATES VISIT TO DETAINED HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST FATHI EL-JAHMI

REF:
A) TRIPOLI 943;
B) TRIPOLI 280,
C) TRIPOLI 925,
D) TRIPOLI 266

CLASSIFIED BY: John T. Godfrey, CDA, Embassy Tripoli, U.S. Dept of State. REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)

1. (C) Summary: The Qadhafi Development Foundation (QDF) facilitated a visit to detained human rights activist Fathi el-Jahmi, our first since April. El-Jahmi's medical condition was visibly better than during our last visit and his doctor said his heart condition had improved and stabilized. Several other medical issues need to be resolved before el-Jahmi can be declared fit for discharge and travel; it is estimated that he might be ready in about three weeks. The QDF has offered el-Jahmi three options:
1) travel abroad for treatment;
2) remain at his family home in Tripoli and pursue outpatient care; and,
3) transfer from the TMC to a private clinic in Libya. The QDF says it would facilitate obtaining passports and exit permissions for el-Jahmi and accompanying family members, and would underwrite el-Jahmi's travel and medical expenses. Reversing his position in April, when he rejected any conditions for his release, el-Jahmi said he had changed his mind and was ready to travel abroad for medical treatment, even if doing so meant acceding to the condition that he refrain from discussing political issues or his detention, and even if it meant he might not return to Libya. El-Jahmi, the QDF representative and the CDA agreed on the following course of action:
1) work will be done to resolve el-Fathi's remaining medical issues;
2) el-Jahmi's family will meet with him later this week to discuss which of the three options (travel abroad for treatment, return to home in Tripoli or transfer to private clinic in Libya) they wish to pursue; and,
3) Muhammad el-Jahmi, Saleh and the CDA will subsequently meet to discuss the family's wishes and how to proceed. End summary.

2. (C) Following on the meeting reported ref A, Saleh Abdulsalam Saleh, Director of the QDF's Human Rights Committee, called the CDA and invited him to visit detained human rights activist Fathi el-Jahmi on December 13 at the Tripoli Medical Center (TMC). On instructions from QDF Chairman Saif al-Islam al-Qadhafi, son of Muammar al-Qadhafi, Saleh met CDA at the TMC and escorted him throughout the meeting. Also present were Dr. Abdulrahman Mehdy, el-Jahmi's treating physician, and an individual identified as his nurse, Abdullah Bashir. (Note: Bashir is a security official. End note.)

MEDICAL CONDITION IMPROVED

3. (C) El-Jahmi's medical condition was visibly better than during our last visit in April (ref B), when he was short of breath and disoriented. Mehdy said el-Jahmi's cardiac condition, his most serious medical problem was "suitable and acceptable". His blood ejection fraction was about 45 - normal was about 53, but el-Jahmi's had been as low as 20 in April. El-Jahmi had experienced fluctuation in his blood sugar levels (he suffers from diabetes), and had recently switched from tablet medication, which adversely interracted with other medications he was taking, to injections. El-Jahmi still suffers from edema in his legs and pain in his arms and legs related to poor circulation. Noting that the most difficult issue - el-Jahmi's heart condition - had improved, Mehdy said three things needed to happen before el-Jahmi could be discharged:
1) his blood sugar levels should be stabilized;
2) the vascular issues in his legs needed to be fully analyzed; and,
3) he needed consultations wtih neuromedical specialists regarding the pain in his extremities.

4. (C) Mehdy said el-Jahmi is scheduled to have a series of tests run on his lower legs on December 17 to address the vascular issues. He is scheduled to begin limited physiotherapy, including walks outside his room, this week to counter the effects of having been bedridden for a lengthy period. El-Jahmi said he has been outside his room only twice since he was admitted in July/August 2007 to the TMC from the prison at which he had been detained. When pressed on how soon el-Jahmi might be fit to be discharged and travel, Mehdy said he would "hopefully" be ready in about three weeks. In a brief one-on-one exchange, Mehdy said it appeared the QDF and GOL were now seriously considering releasing el-Jahmi and permitting him to travel for treatment; however, he had been "encouraged" not to clear el-Jahmi for discharge for several weeks. He speculated that the QDF and GOL wanted time to coordinate arrangements with el-Jahmi's family, arrange his travel and make the necessary political arrangements. (Note: Mehdy told us in March that he had been pressured by the QDF and GOL to not discharge el-Jahmi, even if he had been well enough to leave the TMC. End note.) TRIPOLI 00000960 002 OF 003

EL-JAHMI READY TO LEAVE LIBYA, EVEN WITH CONDITIONS & POSSIBILITY HE MIGHT NOT RETURN

5. (C) El-Jahmi said his wife, Fawzia, and several daughters last visited him about two months ago. His oldest son, Muhammad, visited him briefly on December 4. During a brief one-on-one exchange, el-Jahmi told CDA his position had changed and he was ready to travel abroad for medical treatment, even if doing so meant acceding to the condition that he refrain from discussing political issues or his detention, and even if it meant he might not return to Libya. (Note: QDF Chairman Saif al-Islam al-Qadhafi called Saleh to check on the progress of the meeting; Saleh and Abdullah Bashir stepped into the hallway to take the call, leaving CDA alone with el-Jahmi. End note.) Asked what had prompted him to change his mind - in April, he clearly rejected any conditions for his release and traveling abroad for treatment if it meant he might not come back - el-Jahmi said he was "finished fighting" and was "tired and spent". Noting the toll that the QDF and GOL "pressure campaign" had taken on his family, he said they had all "had enough". Despite the recent improvement in his cardiac condition, his health was fragile and he needed treatment abroad and wanted to leave the TMC.

QDF & GOL OFFER OPTIONS FOR TRAVEL, TREATMENT - EL-JAHMI & FAMILY MUST CHOOSE

6. (C) Saleh said there were three options for el-Jahmi:
1) travel abroad for treatment;
2) remain at his family home in Tripoli and pursue outpatient care; and,
3) transfer from the TMC to a private clinic in Libya. After el-Jahmi's condition improved to the point that he was able to be safely discharged, he and his family had to choose which option they wanted to pursue. El-Jahmi stressed his wish to travel abroad for treatment, but noted that he lacked the funds to do so. Saleh said the QDF would facilitate obtaining passports and exit permissions for accompanying family members, and would underwrite el-Jahmi's travel and medical expenses. (Note: As reported ref C, the QDF made a similar commitment to recently released regime critic Idriss Boufayed. End note.)

7. (C) Saleh said either Muhammad el-Jahmi or his younger brother, Ahmed, would likely accompany el-Jahmi, as well as his wife, Fawzia. It was "possible" that the brother initially left behind, as well as el-Jahmi's daughters and their families, would be permitted to travel to join their father later. Saleh stressed that there were no conditions for el-Jahmi's release, tacit or otherwise. (Note: As reported ref D, the QDF and GOL had earlier stipulated that Muhamamad and Fawzia el-Jahmi sign a statement pledging that el-Jahmi would refrain from speaking about political issues or his detention as a condition for his release from the TMC, which el-Jahmi refused to condone. End note.) If el-Jahmi chose to travel abroad for treatment, he would be able to return to Libya "at any time, as any Libyan citizen can".

NEXT STEPS

8. (C) El-Jahmi, Saleh and the CDA agreed on the following course of action. First, work will be done to resolve the three remaining medical issues, (hopefully) paving the way for his discharge from the TMC. Second, el-Jahmi's family, currently in Benghazi, will travel to Tripoli this week and meet with him sometime thereafter to discuss which of the three options (travel abroad for treatment, return to home in Tripoli or transfer to private clinic in Libya) they wish to pursue. Third, Muhammad el-Jahmi, Saleh and the CDA will subsequently meet to discuss the family's wishes and how to proceed. Noting that Muhammad el-Jahmi had not been "responsible or active" in advocating Fathi el-Jahmi's interests, Saleh attributed delays in Fathi el-Jahmi's release to family squabbles and stressed that the QDF wanted agreement from as many el-Jahmi family members as possible on the desired course of action. Claiming the joint meeting with el-Jahmi had helped avoid misunderstandings, Saleh cautioned the U.S. against relying on "wrong information" from el-Jahmi's U.S.-based brother, who has intermittent contact with el-Jahmi family members in Libya.

9. (C) Comment: While Muhammad el-Jahmi is clearly being made to be the scapegoat in the QDF's version of events, it seems clear that the long months of pressure on the family and particularly on Muhammad, who is the main interlocutor with the QDF and GOL, TRIPOLI 00000960 003 OF 003 have taken a considerable toll. Fathi el-Jahmi was bitter and defiant when we last saw him in April. In this visit he was still angry, but seemed more concerned about his family's safety and resigned to the fact that he would have to accept terms if he wanted to leave the TMC. He told the CDA that "my problem is that I'm a man who believes in civil rights, in human rights and in the basic right to freedom of expression in a country whose regime does not value those things, and in fact despises and fears them". We will follow up with the QDF on the proposed meeting with Muhammad el-Jahmi to discuss the family's wishes and next steps. End comment.
GODFREY

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