6:00am

Sun September 4, 2011
Africa

Rebels Make Major Gains In Libya

Originally published on Tue September 6, 2011 6:50 am

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, host: This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Audie Cornish.

Rebels in Libya say they are encroaching on one of the last strongholds of the country's long-time ruler, Moammar Gadhafi. Meantime, they're consolidating power in the capital.

We're joined now by NPR's Jason Beaubien who is traveling in the country. Hi there, Jason..

JASON BEAUBIEN: Hello.

CORNISH: So, Jason, explain how much of the country at this point is considered in rebel hands.

BEAUBIEN: Almost the entire country is now in rebel hands. There are only a few pockets of towns that are a few places where there are loyalists who are holed up. One of them is Bani Walid and we're on the road outside Bani Walid. The rebels there are saying that they're moving towards Bani Walid. Also the town of Sirte, which is the hometown of Gadhafi. They've given Sirte another week, they say, to surrender and join the revolution peacefully.

And there are a few other pockets further south out in the desert. But for the most part, the rebels control the entire country now.

CORNISH: And you said you are actually travelling at this point. How is security?

BEAUBIEN: Security is quite good, particularly in the capital, Tripoli. Even small children and women and families were out late into the night last night, celebrating the downfall of Gadhafi. It's really a joyous air in the capital. There is very much a sense that this revolution has finally, really come to fruition. So the safety has gotten to a point where people are quite willing to get out in the streets. You know, even children late at night. So things have definitely improved there.

You know, around these small pockets of loyalist resistance, the rebels are keeping people away. But on the road getting here, it feels quite safe.

CORNISH: So talk a little bit more about what's going on in the capital, because I gather that anti-Gadhafi forces have taken over much of the government buildings.

BEAUBIEN: Yes, they're definitely consolidating control over the entire city. They're taking over these old buildings that were part of the Gadhafi regime. You know, we actually went into one just the other day. It was the internal security. This is where Gadhafi's people were spying on their own people. There were sort of files everywhere.

The rebels have been slowly gaining control of these places. They were just wide open. Just, you know, the doors had been bashed in and people had been looting them. The rebels are now securing those buildings and trying to make sure that these records don't disappear.

CORNISH: And, of course, we're seeing reports about files uncovered in the Interior Ministry and the Foreign Ministry.

BEAUBIEN: Yes, that's right. And actually Human Rights Watch got a hold of an entire batch of documents that were coming from Gadhafi's Secret Service, basically, and showing that they were working with the CIA and the British MI6 and that they were actively asking to be able to take terrorism suspects and have them interrogated inside Libya.

These documents came out a few days ago. Human Rights Watch has been very, you know, has objected to this practice of rendition. And these documents show that clearly, you know, from what was in these documents, apparently the CIA was using Libya as a place of rendition; to move the suspects in, have them interrogated in Libya.

CORNISH: And, of course, at this point these documents have not been authenticated. But the idea that the - that even the idea that the U.S. might be having suspects moved to this country with the traditional - with a tradition of brutal questioning is something that's raising a lot of eyebrows.

BEAUBIEN: Yeah. And I should add that in these documents it does explicitly say - these communications between the CIA and the Gadhafi regime, it does say that Libya, you must respect the human rights of these people. So I should add that. But it certainly does raise questions about who the U.S. and the British intelligence services were using to interrogate terror suspects in his global war on terror.

CORNISH: NPR's foreign correspondent Jason Beaubien traveling in Libya. Jason, stay safe.

BEAUBIEN: Will do. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.

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