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Reporters Without Borders
Tuesday, 24 May, 2005

http://www.rsf.org


A. al-Mansouri

Detained Bookseller And Cyber-dissident
Charged With Possession Of A Pistol

Detained Bookseller And Cyber-dissident Charged With Possession Of A Pistol

Reporters Without Borders today reiterated its call for the immediate release of former bookseller Abdel Razak Al Mansouri, saying he is almost certainly being held because of his articles on the Internet criticising the Libyan regime although he is officially charged with unauthorized possession of a pistol.

"This man's imprisonment is arbitrary even if you were to give credence to the charge brought against him," the press freedom organization said.

"How can the Libyan authorities justify holding someone secretly for more than five months on such a charge?" the organization asked. "In this type of case, the defendant should be released while awaiting trial. On the basis of the information we have, this charge just seems to be a pretext for silencing a dissident."

A Human Rights Watch representative was able to meet Al Mansouri on 12 May, during an official visit to Libya. The representative had asked to visit him after being alerted to the case by an earlier Reporters Without Borders release.

Aged 51, Al Mansouri was taken to the meeting handcuffed and blindfolded from the detention center where he is being held. He said he was interrogated several times about the articles he posted on the Akhbar Libya website. He is convinced he was arrested because of these articles and not because of the pistol, which was found at his home the day after his arrest along with twenty-five bullets. He described it as an old pistol given to him by his father.

Al Mansouri said that for the past three weeks he has been held in a detention centre run by the department of internal security in the Tripoli district of Fashloom. Before that he was held at a detention centre belonging to the internal security department for combating "terrorism and zealots."

Human Rights Watch told Reporters Without Borders that Al Mansouri showed no signs of physical mistreatment, that his morale was relatively high and that he had received clothes from his family. However, he has not been allowed any visits since his arrest and has not been allowed to see a lawyer.

He told the Human Rights Watch representative that he wrote "in order to make Libya a better place."

Head of Libya's Internal Security, Col. Tohamy Khaled, told Human Rights Watch that he was responsible for Al Mansouri's arrest. "This man was not arrested for an article or the Internet or radio", he said. "He was arrested because he had a gun without a licence."

When asked why Al Mansouri was being held by Internal Security instead of a facility for regular criminals, Col. Khaled said that illegal weapons was "a job for internal security."

An article by Al Mansouri that was posted on the Akhbar Libya website on 10 January:

http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=13890

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