Tutu presses Libya on jailed activist

One of the world’s most respected clerics is to put pressure on the Libyan government to reveal what it knows about a political activist who has been missing for almost two decades.

Desmond Tutu, the Nobel Peace Prize winner and former Archbishop of Cape Town, has called on Moammar Gadaffi’s regime to “urgently clarify the fate and whereabouts of Jaballa Matar, a prominent political dissident”. In a statement to be issued on Monday, Tutu notes that it is almost 20 years since Matar was abducted from Cairo and sent back to Libya.

Smuggled letters, written between 1992 and 1995, have revealed that Matar was being held in Abu Salim, a political prison in Tripoli. A Human Rights Watch Report released last year claimed Matar had been seen in a Tripoli high-security prison in 2002, giving free speech activists fresh hope that he may still be alive.

The family of Matar, who was one of Gadaffi’s most prominent opponents, has not seen him since the day he was abducted.
“The terrible suffering and uncertainty that arises under these circumstances must be brought to an immediate end,” Tutu said.

Tutu’s intervention has given a major boost to Matar’s family. His son, the London-based novelist Hisham Matar, described the statement as “extraordinary”.

Last month a number of leading novelists, playwrights and lawyers added their names to an open letter to the foreign secretary, David Miliband, calling for the British government to take up Matar’s case with Libya. - guardian.co.uk

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