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Cablegate: Regime Critic Idriss Boufayed in Switzerland for Medical Treatment

VZCZCXRO9942
PP RUEHTRO
DE RUEHTRO #0969 3531752
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P R 181752Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4254
INFO RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO 1349
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS 0706
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS 0845
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT 0788
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 0966
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0653
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEHSW/AMEMBASSY BERN 0023
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 0488
RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI 4776

C O N F I D E N T I A L TRIPOLI 000969

SIPDIS

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

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/18/2018
TAGS: PHUM PREL PGOV KPAO LY
SUBJECT: REGIME CRITIC IDRISS BOUFAYED IN SWITZERLAND FOR MEDICAL TREATMENT REF: A) TRIPOLI 960, B) TRIPOLI 472, C) TRIPOLI 819

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

1. (C) Geneva-based opposition website Libya al-Youm reported on December 12 that recently released regime critic Dr. Idriss Boufayed had arrived in Geneva for medical treatment. Saleh Abdulsalam Saleh, Director of the Qadhafi Development Foundation's (QDF) Human Rights Committee, told the CDA on December 13 on the margins of a meeting with detained human rights activist Fathi el-Jahmi (details ref A), that he had personally escorted Boufayed onto a Vienna-bound Austrian Air flight on December 11 (Boufayed then traveled on to Switzerland). Noting that there had been "complications" in securing permission for Boufayed to travel, Saleh said he had personally accompanied him to the airport at the direction of QDF Chairman Saif al-Islam al-Qadhafi to "avoid problems" with Libyan security organization officials and ensure that he was able to leave. xxxxxxxxxxxxtold CDA on December 17 that Boufayed's brother, Juma'a Boufayed, confirmed earlier this week that his brother had arrived in Geneva and begun treatment for his advanced lung cancer. (Note: Juma'a Boufayed was arrested along with his brother in February 2007 in connection with a planned peaceful demonstration in Tripoli's Green Square. As reported ref B, Juma'a was released on May 27; per ref C, Idriss Boufayed was released on October 8 on humanitarian grounds. End note.)

2. (C) According to Swiss Embassy officials, Boufayed's arrival in Switzerland allowed him to maintain his Swiss residency and eligibility for state-funded medical care. Noting that the QDF would have preferred to keep news of Boufayed's travel quiet, Saleh made a point of stressing that the QDF had paid for his travel and intended to pay for his medical care. He had asked Boufayed to send contact details for the medical facilities at which he was receiving treatment so the QDF could arrange to pay his bills there directly.

3. (C) Comment: Boufayed's case, which is less well-publicized and less sensitive for senior regime figures than that of Fathi el-Jahmi, could provide a useful template for resolving el-Jahmi's case. It is clear that high-level engagement on human rights issues during QDF Chairman Saif al-Islam's recent visit to the U.S. helped re-focus the regime's attention on these issues. Saif al-Islam called Saleh during the CDA's meeting with el-Jahmi to check on the visit and confirm that Boufayed had traveled. According to Saleh, Saif al-Islam underscored to him the importance of noting for the USG the positive role the QDF had played in facilitating Boufayed's travel. Given the GOL's desire to avoid calling attention to Boufayed's travel, Post recommends against any proactive statements regarding the case. End comment.
GODFREY

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