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Libyan woman sued by men she alleges raped her, official says

Iman Al-Obeidi, bottom right, is grabbed by Libyan government minders in a Tripoli hotel as a journalist attempts to protect her.Jerome Delay / AP
/ Source: NBC, and news services

A Libyan lawyer who claimed she was raped by troops loyal to leader Moammar Gadhafi is being sued by the four men under investigation, Libya's main government spokesman said Tuesday.

Moussa Ibrahim told NBC News that the men were filing a defamation case against Iman al-Obeidi, who made headlines when she went to a Tripoli hotel used by Western journalists to tell them about the alleged attack.

She was bundled away by government minders despite efforts by journalists to protect her.

Ibrahim said the four men had been arrested in connection with the allegations.

"I heard that the attorney-general brought her in for questioning because she is now not just the accuser, she is the accused. There is a case against her," Ibrahim told journalists earlier, Sky News reported.

He claimed al-Obeidi had "not come up with anything substantial."

"She says four people kidnapped and raped her, one of them is the son of someone in the state. That is hardly political, the son of someone in the state is a human being," Ibrahim said, according to Sky.

"Now the four guys are having a case filed against her because instead of going to a police station and filing a case against them she went to the media and exposed their names," he added. "Now their honor is tainted, their families black-named and this in the Islamic law is a very grave offense."

Sky News reported she was facing possible criminal charges, but Ibrahim told NBC News that she had not been charged by the government.

Held hostage?
Al-Obeidi's parents said in interviews on Al-Jazeera TV aired Monday that their daughter was being held hostage at the Libyan leader's compound in Tripoli, countering government claims that she had been set free after the hotel incident.

They also denied allegations by Ibrahim that al-Obeidi was a prostitute.

The parents said al-Obeidi was a lawyer and that she was now being held at Gadhafi's compound in Bab Al-Aziziya in the capital.

It was unclear where the parents spoke from and Al-Jazeera did not provide their names.

"I don't feel ashamed, instead my head is up high," the mother told Al-Jazeera, saying her daughter "broke the barrier that no other man could break" by coming forward about her rape.

In the Al-Jazeera footage, the teary-eyed mother held the Libyan opposition flag around her shoulders and said al-Obeidi was "a hostage, taken by the tyrants." She also pleaded for help from the "youth of Tripoli."

The mother said she received a phone call Monday from an unidentified caller, purportedly from the Gadhafi camp, telling her al-Obeidi was held at the Tripoli compound and asking her to instruct her daughter to change the rape claim in return for freedom and other benefits.

"Whatever you ask for, you will get: build a new house or get the money," the mother said the caller offered.