Nic Robertson and CNN Photographer Khalil Abdallah spoke with Back|Story to describe what it was like to be in the room with Eman al-Obeidy, how the interview was arranged and who else was in the room with them as the interview took place.
From Nic Robertson:
TRIPOLI, Libya (CNN) - It has been almost two weeks since Eman al-Obeidy burst into our hotel in Tripoli, desperate for the world to hear her story of rape and torture. We had been trying since then to interview her in person and were finally able to speak to her Wednesday, against the explicit wishes of the Libyan government.
"You should not be allowed to do this," government spokesman Musa Ibrahim told me.
The interview with al-Obeidy was facilitated by Gadhafi's son Saadi and was subject to a government review. We asked al-Obeidy if she would be willing to come to Saadi Gadhafi's office. She agreed and Gadhafi sent a car to pick her up.
She came dressed in ornate black robes and with her head covered. She called herself an ordinary citizen, a good Muslim who is conservative in her social outlook. She spoke with clarity and exuded strength through the conversation, adamant about clearing her name she said Libyan state media had smeared.
"Everything they said about me is a lie," she said.
"I am well-educated unlike the way the Libyan TV portrayed me. I come from a good family, regardless of what they said, I am also not mentally challenged like they said. Just because I raised my voice and talked to the media they blamed me and questioned my sanity. Nonetheless, I want my rights, even without the media."
She spoke of her abduction, of how she was taken to one of the residences of Moammar Gadhafi's soldiers. They were drunk, she said. They tied her up, beat and raped her.
Her bruises had faded, but I could still the see the evidence of her agony around her wrists. She said in the height of her trauma, she took pictures with the camera on her mobile phone, lest people should not believe her later.
"People have blamed me for showing my body," she said. "I was depressed and there was no way to show people how I was tortured. I was brutally tortured to the point of them entering weapons inside me. They would also pour alcohol in my eyes."
She said the men who tortured her are still free, without punishment. Later Saadi Gadhafi told me: "The people responsible for raping her should face charges. She is a strong woman."
By Back|Story staff, CNN International and CNN's Reza Sayah in Libya
You'll remember she tried to tell her story to international journalists in a Tripoli hotel on March 26th. She said she'd been brutally gang-raped by 15 of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s troops.
Eman Al-Obeidy was taken away by Gadhafi loyalists. She hasn’t been seen since. A Libyan government spokesman says she's alive. He promised that female journalists would be allowed to interview her in the next couple of days.
Reza Sayah traveled many hours by car to visit the woman’s family and interview them to get their side of the story. Click on the above video to watch the full segment with Reza’s Back|Story. Reza just sent this note on the latest he has on the story:
“The mother says she still hasn’t heard from Eman. She’s aware of the regime’s promise to have two journalists interview her on Saturday. Her mother says she’s suspicious of the regime and worried that this is another plan by the regime to discredit her daughter and depict her in a bad light.”
TOBRUK, Libya (CNN) – Like everyone else, Aisha Ahmad watched the riveting drama unfold in a Tripoli hotel as a desperate woman burst into a dining room filled with journalists, sobbing, screaming, wanting the world to know she had been raped by 15 of Moammar Gadhafi's militia men.
The arresting images of how swiftly the woman, Eman al-Obeidy, 29, and the journalists were stifled stirred viewers around the world. But perhaps none more so than Ahmad. This was her daughter. And she was enraged. Just weeks before, Ahmad might have wept in silence. But now, with war engulfing Libya and its future hanging in the balance, Ahmad feared Gadhafi no more.
"If I were to see his face, I would strangle him," she told CNN in an interview at her modest home in the eastern coastal city of Tobruk.
CNN Phographer Khalil Abdallah was eating breakfast in the hotel, when Aisha Ahmad's daughter Eman al-Obeidy burst in on Saturday. What happened next was unexpected and violent. Khalil, the CNN Photographer, told his story to Michael Holmes on Tuesday.