Libyan woman who claimed rape leaves for US

June 5, 2011 7:47:24 AM PDT
A Libyan woman who claimed she was raped by Gadhafi troops has left Libya on her way to the United States, her sister said Sunday.

Marwa al-Obeidi says her sister Iman was flown out of Benghazi early Sunday morning. It was not immediately known where she was going in the U.S.

Her case galvanized world opinion against Gadhafi and his record of alleged human rights abuses.

In March, al-Obeidi rushed into Tripoli's Rixos Hotel where all foreign correspondents are forced to stay while covering the part of Libya under Gadhafi's control. She shouted out her story of being stopped at a a checkpoint, dragged away and gang-raped by soldiers. As she spoke emotionally and as photographers and reporters recorded her words, government minders, whose job is to escort reporters around the area, jumped her and dragged her away.

She disappeared for several days, then turned up in Tunisia and later Qatar. She was rarely heard from until Thursday, when she was suddenly expelled from Qatar and ended up in Benghazi. Qatar offered no explanation.

Al-Obeidi has said she was targeted by Gadhafi's troops because she is from Benghazi, the rebel stronghold. Her rape claim could not be independently verified. The Associated Press identifies only rape victims who volunteer their names.

Marwa al-Obeidi told The Associated Press that a human rights group aided by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton arranged for Iman and their father to travel in a private plane to the U.S. by way of Malta and Austria.

The State Department expressed concern for al-Obeidi's safety after she was deported from Qatar. A U.N. human rights body called the deportation a violation of international law, because she was a recognized refugee.

Libyan authorities have alternately labeled al-Obeidi a drunk, a prostitute and a thief.

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