Libya: cyber-activist detained after call for protests

In recent days, Facebook groups numbering several hundred members have been calling for “day of rage” protests in Libya on Feb. 17. An initiator of the call, Jamal al-Hajji, who has joint Libyan and Danish citizenship and has spent time in prison in the past for his criticism of the Moamar Qadaffi regime, was detained on Feb. 1 for an alleged hit-and-run accident, which he denies. International human rights observers say he has been targeted for his activism.

“Two particular aspects of the case lead us to believe that the alleged car incident was not the real reason for Jamal al-Hajji’s arrest, but merely a pretext to conceal what was really a politically motivated arrest,” said Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa director Malcolm Smart. “First, eyewitnesses have reported that the man who is said to have complained of being struck by Jamal al-Hajji’s car showed no visible signs of injury. Secondly, the officers who conducted the arrest were in plain clothes, indicating that they were not the ordinary police who generally would be expected to handle car accidents, but members of the Internal Security Agency (ISA). It is the ISA that usually carries out arrests of political suspects and they wear plain clothes.” (AFP, Bikya Masr, Feb. 8)

Feb. 17 was evidently chosen to commemorate the day in 1987 that nine opponents of the regime were executed for the murder of a member of the Revolutionary Command Council, in a case dissidents say was a frame-up. (

See our last posts on Libya, the Magrhen and the politics of cyberspace in the new Arab uprisings.

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