A Libyan who studied in Britain is facing life imprisonment in Libya for taking part in anti-war, pro-Gadhafi demonstrations in London two years ago, according to Amnesty International.
Moad al-Hnesh, a 34-year-old engineer, was scheduled to appear in Zawiya Criminal Court Wednesday to answer charges that he committed crimes against the state and published false information about Libya.
Hnesh has been charged in relation to his activities during the Libyan conflict two years ago, which include participating in pro-Gadhafi demonstrations in London on June 28, 2011, the British newspaper Telegraph reported.
Article 178 of Libya’s Penal Code criminalizes the activities of Libyans abroad deemed harmful to the state, an offense which carries a life sentence.
Hnesh could face a further 15 years in jail under Article 195 of the code for “publicly insulting the Libyan people” after describing foes of the late strongman Moammar Gadhafi as “rats,” according to the Telegraph.
He studied mechanical engineering on a Libyan government scholarship at Coventry University. Following his return to Libya, Hnesh was arrested on April 3, 2012 by a militia after a group of Libyan students who had met him at the university lodged a complaint against him with the Zawiya Military Council.
“That a young man could face life in prison for expressing political opinions deemed unacceptable by those in power, begs the question of whether Libya has changed since the Gadhafi era," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa deputy director.
“Libya adopted a constitutional declaration that guarantees freedom of expression two years ago. But instead of repealing draconian legislation used by the former regime to imprison opponents of Gadhafi, the new authorities are abusing the very same laws to stifle dissent,” Sahraoui said.
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