updated 10/13/2008 5:54:57 PM ET 2008-10-13T21:54:57

The charitable organization run by Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's son helped secure the release of a prominent political prisoner for health reasons, one of the group's directors said Monday.

Activist Idris Boufayed, who had been jailed for life, was released thanks to the intervention of the Gadhafi International Association for Charitable Organizations, led by Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, according to director Saleh Abdel-Salam.

Boufayed was arrested early last year with several other activists after announcing plans to hold a peaceful rally in Tripoli and sentenced to life in prison.

Boufayed had been hospitalized for the last six months before his release and the organization will now ensure he is treated for his severe lung cancer in Switzerland, Abdel-Salam told the Associated Press.

Human Rights Watch, on Friday, welcomed the release and called on Libya to free the other men who were arrested with him 20 months ago.

Boufayed, 51, a physician who lived for years in exile in Switzerland but returned to Libya to visit in 2006, is an outspoken critic of Libyan leader Gadhafi and has been previously jailed.

Abdel-Salam said the organization was also behind Boufayed's return to Libya from Switzerland and it also helped in transferring him from jail to the hospital.

Boufayed and the other men were put on trial for planning to overthrow the government, disrupting social peace, calling for disobedience and the formation of an illegal party.

Last month, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited Libya and said she raised specific human rights concerns with Qadhafi. Other US officials said they have raised Boufayed's case with the Libyan government.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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