By Umar Khan.
Tripoli, 11 December:
New light has been shed on the abduction of the prominent social network activist Hamid Al-Tubuly by . . .[restrict]members of the Supreme Security Committee.
In his first interview since the incident on 4 December, Tubuly told the Libya Herald that the SSC unit responsible for his kidnap had previously offered to guard his vacant villa in return for money.
An outspoken critic of the Qaddafi regime, Tubuly suffered a 12 hour ordeal after he was dragged from his home in front of his wife and children, subjected to mock executions and offered up for ransom.
Sources inside the SSC have alleged that Tubuly was taken for interrogation concerning significant quantities of communications equipment found in his villa as well as suspicions regarding links between his brother and Mohammed Qaddafi, the eldest of the former dictator’s seven sons.
The SSC have said they were forced to release Tubuly prematurely following intense pressure from National Congress President Mohamed Magarief.
Tubuly believes that the SSC’s 10th unit in Dahra, which was responsible for his arrest, is a rogue unit and maintains his innocence.
“After I refused their offer to guard my vacant villa, I was expecting them to come back with a new excuse”, says Tubuly, but he was instead hauled off for interrogation.
“I still have bruises as they manhandled me and then forced me to reveal my mobile phone password using mock executions, firing off their weapons right next to my ears.”
Tubuly says that the SSC unit used his mobile to get money from his family and used the Google Chat application to demand the ransom instead of sending an email, believing that there would be no record of the conversation.
However, Tubuly subsequently managed to get a transcript from the history of the conversations and also presented a copy to Mohamed Magarief. He says he has the names of the people involved in his arrest and plans on filing a complaint with the prosecutor general.
Putting forward their side of the story, a senior SSC source agreed to speak to this paper on condition of anonymity, since at the time of interview the SSC was yet to submit its report to the Ministry of Interior.
“He was called for interrogation about the ownership of his villa that had sensitive communication equipment inside it. The neighbours complained that they saw Koreans using the villa during the revolution. When we checked it we found all these communication devices and portable computers.
“Before the revolution, his brother was working with Mohammed Qaddafi in the Libya Telecoms and Technology (LTT) company”, the source continued, “and there was suspicion around the ownership of the villa.
The SSC say they had particular concerns with Nasir Al-Tubuly, who left the country, and with the activities that were carried out at the villa before the revolution.
“But [Hamid] Tubuly was released before any proper interrogation could be carried out because of immense pressure from the Congress.”
Asked about the allegations, Tubuly maintains that he legally owns the villa, which used to serve as his company’s office providing services to both Libya’s mobile phone carries, Libyana and Al-Madar.
“Only a couple of days before I was kidnapped, I was in Metiga air base. I was called there for interrogation regarding the ownership of the villa and the equipment inside,” continues Tubuly. “I showed them the legal documents that were in order and explained the nature of my old company. I told them that they can contact both Libyana and Al-Madar to confirm the services my company was providing.”
“My brother was a technical consultant and nothing more. He escaped from Tripoli before the city was liberated and helped the revolutionaries in the western mountains. He came back after the liberation and offered his services to the telecommunication companies but he was told to wait.
“Former telecommunication minister Anwar Fituri knows him. He waited for seven months during which he was also called for questioning some times. When he received no response, he decided to further his studies and went abroad only a couple of months back.”
Tubuly also insists that the SSC unit’s motives for bringing him in were anything but disinterested: “They said to me, ‘you’re not the first one; give us the money and you’ll be out’. But when they learnt of the pressure from different sources, they handed me over to a different unit based in the same building [the 16th unit in Dahra] and ran away. After that, I was treated me with respect and handed over to my friends who came to rescue me.”
Asked what he plans on doing now, Tubuly says that he will be filing his complaint with the prosecutor general with all the evidence he has on them but he is also disappointed on the inaction from the government.
“I am grateful to the head of the GNC for his efforts in helping my release but after that there has been no contact from government officials as to whether there has been any development on the arrest of those involved. I fear for my safety; my children are not going to school and my friends are trying to provide me security for the time being.”
Earlier the head of the Tripoli branch of SSC, Hashim Bishar, told the Libya Herald that he would submit his report to the Ministry of Interior on the Tubuly case early this week.
The villa in question is now under SSC guard, whilst the Ministry of Interior has sent in technical experts, on the SSC’s request, to determine the exact nature of the equipment installed inside. [/restrict]