She has told Amnesty International: “I am protesting in solidarity with my husband until I see that the court agrees to release him on bail. He should be allowed to stand trial outside of prison given his age and health condition.”
Amara al-Khattabi is 67 and suffers from a number of chronic diseases including diabetes and hypertension. Despite this, the court has persisted in denying him bail. He is now in the 41th day of his hunger strike.
“The court refuses to release my husband on bail because of the alleged security threat that he poses,” his wife said.
“I wonder how can a journalist, the editor-in-chief of a newspaper, who published an article, be equated with criminal offenders accused of crimes such as murder, drug-trafficking or rape?”
Amnesty International has called on the Libyan authorities to drop all charges against al-Khattabi immediately, and to repeal laws which unduly restrict freedom of expression.
“While we are relieved that Amara al-Khattabi has been given access to medical care, he should be released unconditionally at the end of his treatment, not transferred back to prison,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Deputy Middle East and North Africa Programme Director.
“We are disturbed that the Libyan authorities are resorting to these old laws, which were used to repress dissent and arrest thousands for voicing their political opinions during the al-Gaddafi era. As Libya is building new institutions based on the rule of law, a free press is an essential component and the authorities must do more to protect freedom of expression.”
Amara al-Khattabi’s charges were initially related to his newspapers registration, but his lawyer provided the court with proper documentation. Amnesty International fears that Amara al-Khattabi is now being tried solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression.