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Friday, 15 June, 2007

Mohamed Eljahmi :
Pressure On Qaddafi Must Increase
Even At The Price Of Isolation

Mohamed Eljahmi, Critic Of The Libyan Regime

HN. IHNED.CZ, 6 June 2007

Pressure on Qaddafi must increase even at the price of isolation

Prague, 6 June 2007

In "civilian clothes”, he is an American software engineer, but otherwise he is one of the best-known leaders of the Libyan opposition. "Qaddafi is smart. He hasn't changed at all," says activist Mohamed Eljahmi of the regime that has imprisoned his brother for years.

HN: Libya was previously long isolated. Now Western politicians and businessmen take turns visiting. Can the country change for the better inside as well?

Mohamed El-Jahmi: I wouldn't say so. Libya still functions something like 'Animal Farm.' An Orwellian system rules there. Qaddafi is smart. He knew that if he showed a small amount of support in the war against terrorism, it would solve many things. He gained legitimacy. The world opened to him.
In reality, even after a rapprochement with the West, Libya has not changed. Qaddafi recently quoted a verse from the Koran that calls for preparations for a worldwide jihad. Now he is again celebrating the insurgency in Iraq…

HN: Your brother, Fathi Eljahmi, is one of the best-known political prisoners in the country. Why is he held by the regime and under what conditions?

Mohamed El-Jahmi: No one has either heard from him or seen him since August. He has been imprisoned for five years in an unknown location by the Libyan state security services. He is isolated from the world. He isn't in a civilian imprisonment, but in a special place run by an anti-terrorist unit. There are witnesses to the fact that he called Qaddafi a dictator, he publicly criticized his stance and called for democracy.

HN: Is such repression still common in the country, or is Qaddafi's regime loosening up?

Mohamed El-Jahmi: Being politically persecuted is an entirely common thing in Libya. Under pressure from the international community, the regime has cancelled its nuclear arms program, but it has not opened its prisons. On the numbers of people held, it will only be possible to know this in the future. The pressure is enormous in Libya. People are afraid. The American State Department says that 10 to 20 % of Libyans work for the secret services. In a country of 6 million, that's a million people!

HN: The world is following the case of the Bulgarian health care workers who are facing the death penalty for "spreading the HIV virus." What is Qaddafi's goal?

Mohamed El-Jahmi: Those are innocent people, held for years on the basis of fabricated evidence. Qaddafi's goal is clear. He wants to negotiate. The Bulgarians serve him as a means. He will continue up to a point just before confrontation, and then he will back down. This is not about Libyan law. In reality he is willing to free them immediately.

HN: In Prague you spoke with prominent U.S. leaders and you discouraged them from an "open door" policy towards Libya.

Mohamed El-Jahmi: The policy of trade rapprochement is not working. Pressure on Qaddafi must be increased, even at the price of a partial return to its isolation.

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