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Source: Al-Obeidy headed to Malta

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Alleged Libya rape victim heads to Malta
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: State Department source: U.S. prepared to help Eman Al-Obeidy
  • She eventually will go to a processing center in Europe
  • Al-Obeidy accused Moammar Gadhafi's security forces of raping her
  • She has said repeatedly she wants to go to the United States

(CNN) -- The United States is deeply concerned about the well-being of Eman al-Obeidy, according to a State Department source, and worked closely with officials in Europe and Libya to get her safely out of the country. The same source said the U.S. is "prepared to provide whatever help and support Eman may need."

Al-Obeidy grabbed the world's attention this spring when she accused Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's security forces of gang-raping her.

She is now on the way to Malta with her father, according to another high-level U.S. State Department source. She will eventually head to a processing center in Europe before leaving for a final destination.

She has told CNN on repeated occasions that she wants to go to the United States.

One of the State Department sources told CNN that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton "has been deeply interested in the case and has followed it throughout."

Al-Obeidy was in Qatar awaiting resettlement as a refugee when she was deported Thursday and sent back to Libya. She was reportedly beaten before being deported.

Najah Dawaji, a U.S.-based Libyan pro-freedom activist, said she was with three key members of Libya's Transitional National Council when they first learned that al-Obeidy was forced from Doha and arrived in Benghazi, Libya, on Thursday. She said al-Obeidy had a black eye, bruises on her legs and scratches on her arms.

Al-Obeidy told a journalist that officials in the Transitional National Council had pressured the Qataris to expel her. But, according to Dawaji, she did not blame the rebel group for the beating itself.

Al-Obeidy told CNN that when she asked her attackers why they were beating her, they said that Mahmoud Shammam and Mahmoud Jibril, both leaders in the Libyan rebel movement, had sent the Qataris an "urgent letter" saying that she had to be deported immediately.

Rape suspects accuse woman of slander

After arriving in Qatar, al-Obeidy had made public statements saying the Transitional National Council was using her. The council denied that.

Council members were upset upon seeing al-Obeidy's condition and vowed to open an investigation, Dawaji said.

Al-Obeidy told CNN that in the hours leading to her deportation, armed guards were posted outside her hotel room, preventing a representative from the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees from helping her. The U.N. agency had prepared papers for her departure from Qatar to begin a new life.

She said Qatari authorities took her and her parents from the Kempinski Residences and Suites in the Qatari capital. She said she was beaten and handcuffed, then forced onto a military plane to Libya. She said the Qataris had taken everything from her and her parents -- including cell phones, her laptop and money.

When told by the UNHCR that she was protected under refugee status, Qatari agents said, "We don't have an agreement with the U.N.," according to al-Obeidy.

Al-Obeidy said a group of men and women beat her, her father and her sister in a parking lot, and they were beaten more at the airport.

The United States said it was "disappointed" by al-Obeidy's expulsion, which it said was "a breach of humanitarian norms."

Amnesty International called the deportation "outrageous," saying the action by the Qatari government "is a serious breach by Qatar of its international obligations."

CNN's Khalil Abdallah and Nic Robertson contributed to this report.

 
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