Fathi al-Jahmi
Photos of Fathi al-Jahmi (© 2008 Fred Abrahams/Human Rights Watch)

Fathi al-Jahmi died on Thursday morning, May 21, 2009.

PHR Calls for Investigation into Death of Libyan Dissident Fathi Al-Jahmi

Medical Evaluation of Fathi al-Jahmi, Conducted by Scott A. Allen, MD, Advisor to Physicians for Human Rights, March 13th and 14th, 2008 (PDF)

Libyan internal security forces first arrested al-Jahmi, an engineer and former provincial governor, on October 19, 2002, after he criticized the government and Libyan leader Mu`ammar al-Qadhafi, calling for the abolition of al-Qadhafi's Green Book, free elections in Libya, a free press, and the release of political prisoners. A court sentenced him to five years in prison.

On March 1, 2004, US Senator Joseph Biden met al-Qadhafi in Tripoli and called for al-Jahmi's release. Nine days later, an appeals court gave al-Jahmi a suspended sentence of one year and ordered his release on March 12.

That same day, al-Jahmi gave an interview to the US-funded al-Hurra television, in which he repeated his call for Libya's democratization. He gave another interview to the station four days later, in which he called al-Qadhafi a dictator and said, "All that is left for him to do is hand us a prayer carpet and ask us to bow before his picture and worship him."

Two weeks later, on March 26, 2004, security agents arrested al-Jahmi for a second time, together with his wife and their eldest son. The Internal Security Agency detained them in an undisclosed location for six months, without access to relatives or lawyers. The authorities released al-Jahmi's son on September 23, 2004, but his wife refused to leave until November 4.

The Internal Security Agency held al-Jahmi at a special facility on the coast near Tripoli. The head of the agency told Human Rights Watch in 2005 that al-Jahmi was being held there for his own protection and because he is "mentally disturbed."

"I'm responsible for his health care, his detention, and I want to say this: if this man was not detained, because he provoked people, they could have attacked him in his home," Col. Tohamy Khaled said. "Therefore, he is facing trial. … He's in special detention because he's mentally disturbed and we're worried he will cause a problem for us."

Physicians for Human Rights visited al-Jahmi in February 2005, and determined that he suffered from diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. The organization called for al-Jahmi's unconditional release and access to medical care.

Human Rights Watch visited al-Jahmi in May 2005 at the special facility in Tripoli. He said then that he faced charges on three counts under articles 166 and 167 of the penal code: trying to overthrow the government; insulting al-Qadhafi; and contacting foreign authorities. The third charge, he said, resulted from conversations he had with a US diplomat in Tripoli.
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