Libyan state TV smears alleged rape victim while foreign journalists remain on the case

Joe Pompeo

Covering the story of Eman al-Obeidy has become something of a cause for foreign journalists. Al-Obeidy is the woman who burst into a hotel favored by international reporters in Libya's capital city of Tripoli last weekend and frantically recounted her alleged capture and gang rape by 15 members of strongman Muammar Gadhafi's security detail. She was then whisked away by Libyan officials, and has not been heard from since.

Meanwhile, the state-run media in al-Obeidy's home country has launched an assault on the woman's reputation.

"Libyan state television is reporting on her, painting her as a traitor and a prostitute," CNN's Anderson Cooper said on his show Wednesday night. He then played a clip, which you can watch below, of a female state broadcaster smearing al-Obeidy on the air.

"With all due respect to whores, even a whore may have some sense of patriotism," the anchor said, per Cooper's translation. "Even a whore will have a sense of patriotism when it comes to her homeland, Libya. But sister Eman has a political hate agenda. She is extremely radical." Al-Obeidy is said, in reality, to be a post-graduate law student who has been studying in Tripoli.

The government claims it has released her into her family's custody--but family members deny this and say they rejected a bribe to have al-Obeidy recant the rape allegations.

"I said no, I won't exchange my daughter's honor for money," al-Obeidy's mother told CNN in an interview earlier Wednesday.

"I'm not afraid of Gadhafi. If I were to see his face, I would strangle him," she said. "I couldn't stop crying," she continued, of first seeing video of her daughter at the hotel. "I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep,"

Foreign reporters are still trying to get reliable word on al-Obeidy's whereabouts, and pressing Muammar Gadhafi's regime for details. Aside from CNN, reporters from the New York Times, the Financial Times, Reuters and other news outlets on the ground in Tripoli, have helped cast a spotlight on al-Obeidy's case.

"We'll keep reporting on this until she is found," said Cooper.