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Cablegate: Nea/Mag Director Discusses Human Rights and Lifg Negotiations with Qadhafi Development Foundation

VZCZCXRO0582
PP RUEHTRO
DE RUEHTRO #0919 3311633
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 261633Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4187
INFO RHEHAAA/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 1320
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 0680
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 0824
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 0770
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0943
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0630
RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI 4709

C O N F I D E N T I A L TRIPOLI 000919

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR NEA/MAG (NARDI, JOHNSON), DRL/NESCA (JOHNSTONE,
KWIRAM) AND S/CT

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/26/2018
TAGS: PHUM PREL PGOV PTER KISL PINR LY
SUBJECT: NEA/MAG DIRECTOR DISCUSSES HUMAN RIGHTS AND LIFG NEGOTIATIONS WITH QADHAFI DEVELOPMENT FOUNDATION REF: A) TRIPOLI 819, B) TRIPOLI 472, C) TRIPOLI 280, D) TRIPOLI 577

CLASSIFIED BY: Chris Stevens, CDA, Embassy Tripoli, U.S. Dept of State. REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)

1. (C) In a meeting with Qadhafi Development Foundation (QDF) Executive Director Yusuf Sawani, visiting NEA/MAG Director Stephanie Williams urged the GOL to release detained human rights activist Fathi el-Jahmi without conditions and facilitate his travel abroad for medical care if he chose to pursue that. Williams, accompanied by A/DCM, PAO and Econoff, met with Sawani on November 6. Williams acknowledged the release of self-described regime critic Dr. Idriss Boufayed, who is critically ill with cancer, from detention on October 8 (ref A) as a positive development and urged that the QDF help facilitate his travel abroad for needed medical care. Noting the interest of EU member states, she urged the QDF to do all it could to encourage the Government of Libya (GOL) to release the ten other members of Boufayed's group, who were arrested on the eve of a planned peaceful demonstration in Tripoli's Martyrs' Square in February 2007 and sentenced to lengthy prison terms earlier this year (ref B).

2. (C) Reprising arguments we've heard before, Sawani argued that el-Jahmi was mentally unstable and his own worst enemy. The QDF had made repeated efforts to secure his release, but he and his family had refused to take the steps necessary to facilitate that. (Note: As reported ref C and previous, el-Jahmi has rejected any conditions for his release, and has refused to permit his son, Muhammad, to sign an agreement that he would refrain from political statements and discussing his detention if he were released. End note.) El-Jahmi's U.S.-based brother, Muhammad el-Jahmi, had exploited Fathi el-Jahmi's case to pursue a political vendetta against al-Qadhafi and the GOL, Sawani said. Sawani denied reports that the regime was quietly seeking to influence the el-Jahmi tribe to disown Fathi el-Jahmi as a precursor to liquidating him. He stressed that the most senior levels of the GOL, including security officials, are aware of and invested in el-Jahmi's case, which made it difficult for the QDF to play a positive role. On Boufayed, Sawani said the QDF was working to secure his passport and permission for him to travel. He was noncommital on the possibility that the ten members of the Boufayed group remaining in detention would be released soon.

3. (C) Separately, Sawani said talks between the QDF and imprisoned members of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) were continuing and that release of a further tranche of LIFG members was expected by year's end, possibly in connection with the upcoming Eid al-Adha holiday. (Note: As reported ref D, tranches of 131 and 40 LIFG members were released in April and June, respectively, in connection with talks under the auspices of the QDF. End note.) Acknowledging reports that there had been "handicaps" to efforts to reintegrate former LIFG members into Libyan society after their release, he stressed the QDF's emphasis on "transitional justice", i.e., financial compensation, restitution of legal and property rights and help with job placement for those released. The extent to which former LIFG members are able to be rehabilitated and reintegrated into Libyan society would bear on Libya's domestic political reform efforts, he said. Accordingly, Saif al-Islam al-Qadhafi, son of Muammar al-Qadhafi and Chairman of the QDF, continued to play a role in the ongoing discussions with imprisoned LIFG members. He expressed hope that the new U.S. administration would continue to pursue bilateral U.S.-Libya ties in the same spirit of cooperation that had recently obtained, warning that if it did not, the GOL would not continue to support QDF initiatives such as the LIFG talks. (Comment: Sawani implied, but did not say, that the QDF's ability to intermediate on human rights issues would be further circumscribed if the GOL perceived pressure from the U.S.. End comment.)
STEVENS

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