The Tar Pit

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Libya imprisons a blogger, Abdel Raziq al-Mansuri

Libyan dictator Moammar Qaddafi has looked the blogoshpere straight in the eye and dared it not to blink:

From the Associated Press:

Libya has sent to prison for 18 months a blogger who criticized the government on the Internet, Human Rights Watch says in a report that inspired a series of Web tributes to the dissident Friday.

A Tripoli court convicted Abdel Raziq al-Mansuri of illegal possession of a handgun and sentenced him to 18 months' imprisonment on Oct. 19, the New York-based rights group said in an e-mail to The Associated Press in Cairo.

"The gun charges are a ruse," said the Middle Eastern director of HRW, Sarah Leah Whitson. "The authorities went after al-Mansuri because they did not like what he wrote."

Hat tip: Dean's World.

Credit where it's due: the United Arab Emirates' Khaleej Times is also carrying the AP story.

Human Rights Watch has more:

The trial began in late summer, the family said, but was twice postponed. First, al-Mansuri's lawyer asked for an extension to prepare a defense. Then, the court postponed the trial because al-Mansuri was hospitalized for a broken pelvis he sustained after falling from his top bunk in prison.

On October 19, a Tripoli court sentenced al-Mansuri to one-and-a-half years in prison. According to the family, the court refused to give him credit for the four months of incommunicado detention by the Internal Security Agency.

His family said Libyan authorities have asked them to denounce al-Mansuri as mentally deranged. "If defending the right to free speech and asking for basic human rights is insane in our country, then welcome to a family that is, from its oldest to its youngest, insane," their letter said.

More credit where it's due: Arabic News is also carrying the full story from Human Rights Watch.

From the Statement from the family of imprisoned writer `Abd al-Raziq al-Mansuri:

On 1/12/2005 men from Internal Security in Tubruk arrested our son at the family home on Palestine St. His brother `Ali `Abd al-Wanis al-Mansuri accompanied him to `Abd al-Raziq's residence where he lived to search [the premises]. When asked, they [I.S.] said that orders had come from the head administration in Tripoli to arrest `Abd al-Raziq for posting online. They searched the residence and confiscated his computer, CDs and any books in the house. `Abd al-Raziq's brother asked them to respect Libyan law and present a search warrant from the prosecutor allowing the search but they did not care and took the computer with them and a bunch of disks and a bunch of articles `Abd al-Raziq was writing. When they arrived at the IS building, they took `Abd al-Raziq for questioning. His bother who was accompanying him remained in the outside waiting room. After a long time, one of the security officers asked his brother to provide a bed for `Abd al-Raziq and to go home. The next morning, 1/13/2005, `Abd al-Raziq's brother returned to the IS building to ask about his brother and sat with those responsible for questioning him. They told him they had never seen someone with his confidence and had no trouble questioning him since he had confessed to the charges against him: writing numerous articles in which he criticizes the state of Libyan affairs posted on Akhbar-Libya online in his real name, leaving them no recourse to help him by denying the charges. They asked `Abd al-Raziq's brother to go with them to search the house again to look for more disks and, in fact, went to search `Abd al-Raziq's house. They began searching and collecting all the disks and papers they wanted. Just then, an officer came out of one of `Abd al-Raziq's rooms holding an old pistol with no clip belonging to `Abd al-Raziq's father from the 60s, usable and only kept as memorabilia, and bullets that `Abd al-Raziq's father found on one of the beaches during a fishing trip. It is known that Tubruk is a border area where one can find many weapons and ammunition.

The next day, 1/14/2005, `Abd al-Raziq's brother went to inquire about him and was told that he [`Abd al-Raziq] had been transferred to Tripoli. After almost two weeks `Abd al-Raziq's brother went to Tripoli to search for him. After great effort, he found the place where `Abd al-Raziq was arrested, which belonged to the IS, but was not allowed to see him or even to secure a lawyer. He brought `Abd al-Raziq clothes and a few personal items and delivered them to those in charge. Afterwards, he went to the Qadaffi Foundation for Human Rights and submitted a request to the organization to help him in securing his brother's safety. As of the writing of this statement, we have not received a reply from the above-mentioned organization.

The family's statement was originally posted at al-Mansuri's website, Akhbar Libya.

Reactions around the blogosphere...

An appeal from the Committee to Protect Bloggers:

Help the Committee condemn this travesty by writing to the Libyan ambassador to your country or to your ambassador to Libya.

Again, from Dean's World.

...the Libyan government will show up at the UN on Monday and their vote on behalf of the people they oppress will count just the same as every freely elected democracy's does.

Pardon my English:

For anyone who loves freedom, and the expression thereof, the blog phenomenon is a grand and thrilling development. It's the ultimate vehicle for free exploration and exchange of ideas (not to mention dissent), and it's the ultimate crucible of peer-review to test ones honesty and credibility. This is why autocratic, theocratic, and other totalitarian regimes are deathly afraid of the blog. It's a powerful tool for freedom.

Owen at Boots and Sabers:

Perhaps Libya has not progressed as much as they would like us to think. 

Assorted Thoughts:

For all the bitching and moaning I do about the politics and politicians of the United States, I never forget that this country affords me a lot of freedoms denied to most of the world.  So I was ashamed and outraged when I heard that a blogger in Libya was arrested recently for writing about his dissatisfaction with his government.

Barking Moonbat:

Folks, the governments of the Middle East don't know how to conduct business in a free and open society. All they know is fascism. Islamofascism, if you want to be entirely correct. It's amazing to me that the groups in America who benefit the most from free speech and even abuse it are the ones who are violently against our attempts to bring freedom and democracy to that backward region.

From TexasFred:

Why sites like DU can only survive in the United States of America....

Zach Corey at 1832:

The thing that worries the power structure about blogs is the fact that it is basically a pure meritocracy. I check the blogs that put out interesting and relevant stories. I have my pick. Also, blogs can be written by anyone from anywhere, so they're exceptionally hard to control. It is an extraordinarily democratic medium.

Jeremiah Stoddard:

Here's another opportunity for the blog world to try to exercise its influence (which, according to the media, is only used for evil purposes).

Many thanks to Glenn Reynolds and LaShawn Barber for getting the word out. Glenn also points to a list of Libyan embassies around the world.