Eman al-Obeidy, the Libyan woman who in March accused men in Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s forces of gang-raping her, has arrived in the U.S.
al-Obeidy arrived in New York Wednesday night after spending 54 days in a U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees facility in Romania, CNN reports. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees is an agency that protects refugees and resolves refugee problems across the world.
Once al-Obeidy landed in New York, she caught a flight to the location where she plans to live in the U.S.
According to CNN, al-Obeidy says she is excited and happy to be in the U.S., where she has been granted asylum. She also sent her gratitude to the U.S. government and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
al-Obeidy made headlines in March when she burst into the Rixos Hotel in Tripoli, where international reporters were staying, and told them she had been taken, beaten and raped by 15 Qaddafi militiamen for two days.
She was subsequently dragged out of the hotel by government agents and not heard from for more than a week as she was held in custody. According to Qaddafi’s representatives, the government was investigating al-Obeidy’s claims. al-Obeidy told CNN that she was interrogated for 72 hours and released after a doctor examined her and determined she had been tortured and raped.
Despite her release, al-Obeidy feared for her safety. “They have threatened me with death and told me I will never leave prison again if I go to the journalists or tell them anything about what’s happening in Tripoli,” she said to CNN. al-Obeidy said she had attempted to leave Tripoli multiple times but kept being stopped by government forces.
With the aid of two defecting Qaddafi army officers and their families, she was eventually able to flee Libya to Tunisia on May 5. She was then driven from the border by French diplomats and given to members of the Transitional National Council, the Libyan rebels’ government, who arranged a flight for her to Qatar.
“I felt my soul is liberated,” al-Obeidy told CNN after arriving in Qatar. “I am able to talk what I want, live like I choose. I was living in fear, and I was worried, and I was tired. It was a psychological issue. But, when I arrived to Doha, I felt comfortable, as if I have forgotten all these problems that happened to me. I felt so relieved.”
On June 2, al-Obeidy was deported back to Libya, CNN reported. She was taken to Benghazi, a city held by rebels. Although she had gone into hiding, al-Obeidy spoke with CNN and said Qatari authorities beat, handcuffed and forced her to get onto a military plane that took her back to Libya.
Soon after being deported, al-Obeidy once again left Libya, along with her father and a representative of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, and headed for Malta, a small country to the south of Italy.
From Malta, she went to Romania and arrived on June 6.
Other than her conversation with CNN, al-Obeidy says she is not ready to talk to the media.
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