- By Colum LynchColum Lynch is Foreign Policy’s award-winning U.N.-based senior diplomatic reporter. He previously wrote FP’s Turtle Bay blog, for which he was awarded the 2011 National Magazine Award for best reporting in digital media. He was also the silver medal recipient of the 2013 Elizabeth Neuffer Memorial Prize for a three-part series documenting the U.N.’s systemic failure to protect civilians in Darfur, Sudan. Colum’s investigations have uncovered an American spy operation in Iraq, Russia’s monopoly of the $1 billion-a-year U.N. aircraft leasing market, and a Chinese diplomatic campaign to silence U.N. investigators scrutinizing Chinese arms deals in Africa. His deep digs into the U.N. bureaucracy have exposed sexual misconduct by U.N. blue helmets from Bosnia to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and documented monumental dysfunction in the U.N. office charged with rooting out misconduct and corruption. He now devotes his reporting chops to documenting President Donald Trump’s efforts to reorder the international system. Born in Los Angeles, Colum received a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1985 and a master’s degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism in 1987. Before moving to FP, Colum reported on diplomacy and national security for the Washington Post for more than a decade. He has appeared frequently on national news programs, including the Lehrer NewsHour, as well as on MSNBC, NPR, and the BBC.
A relative of Libya’s former U.N. ambassador and intelligence chief Abuzed Omar Dorda appealed to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the U.N. Security Council president today to intercede with Libyan authorities to protect the detained former Libyan diplomat, saying he had been the target of an assassination attempt by his jailers.
Dorda had been a high-ranking official in Qaddafi’s government, playing a role during his years at the United Nations in negotiating the deal that ended U.N. sanctions on Libya imposed after the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, and paving the way to a financial payout to relatives of the victims.
Dorda went on to become the director of Libya’s external security organization. Earlier this year, the United States and the U.N. Security Council imposed a freeze on Dorda’s financial assets and those of several other members of Qaddafi’s inner circle.
Libyan authorities arrested Dorda about two months ago, Adel Khalifa Dorda, who is Dorda’s son in law, wrote in a pair of letters to Ban and Security Council’s Nigerian president, U. Joy Ogwu. Adel sent a copy of the letters to Turtle Bay after receiving my email through a mutual source.
"Most of you may have known and dealt with Mr. Dorda during his tenure as PR of Libya," the email read. "We kindly request your help in dealing with this issue so that we can spare his life and guarantee his safety. This is a humanitarian issue. On behalf of myself and his family, we appreciate any effort you put and thank you in advance."
A spokesman for Ban and Security Council diplomats could not confirm tonight whether the letter had actually been delivered to the U.N. chief or the Security Council president.
"Mr. Dorda survived a murder attempt last night, 25 October, 2011, at the hands of his guards in the building where he was arrested," he wrote on behalf of the Dorda family. "He was thrown off the second floor leading to several broken bones and other serious injuries."
Adel said "authorities were forced to move Dorda to Maitiga hospital in Tripoli where as of now he is being held under extremely poor conditions. Dorda is not receiving the proper treatment duly and legally accorded a political prisoner, let alone that required under the terms of human rights and other international treaties."
Adel insisted that his father in law had never played any role in committing atrocities, saying he "had arranged his own surrender" in Libya because "he was confident he had not participated in any murders or arbitrary arrests. He was only serving his country in different positions and [was] very active in international diplomacy."
The request for help came hours after U.N. Special Representative for Libya Ian Martin expressed concern to the Security Council that Qaddafi and his son, Muatassim, had been mistreated and killed in a troubling circumstances that required investigation and cited other reports that forces on both sides engaged in war crimes during the final battle in Sirte. Martin privately told Security Council members that he was seriously concerned about the treatment of detainees.
Full text of the letter below.
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His Excellency Mr. Ban Ki Moon
United Nations, NY
I am writing to bring to your attention an issue we deem important not only because it relates to a member of our family but as a human rights issue that concerns a former Permanent Representative to the United Nations who contributed to solving many human rights issues and guaranteeing these rights to many in his country and the world.
The case in question concerns Mr. Abuzed Omar Dorda, the former PR of Libya to the UN during the nineties. As you may know, Mr. Dorda has been arrested by the new Libyan Authorities for two months. He had arranged his own surrender as he was confident he had not participated in any murders or arbitrary arrests. He was only serving his country in different positions and very active in international diplomacy. He had a major role in solving many of the problems between the international community and Libya, most important of which was the Lockerbie issue. Many Permanent Representatives and UN officials who worked and dealt with him would attest to his responsible and genuine personality and efforts.
Mr. Dorda survived a murder attempt last night, 25October, 2011, at the hands of his guards in the building where he was arrested. He was thrown off the second floor leading to several broken bones and other serious injuries. Authorities were forced to move Dorda to Maitiga hospital in Tripoli where as of now he is being held under extremely poor conditions. Dorda is not receiving the proper treatment duly and legally accorded a political prisoner, let alone that required under the terms of human rights and other international treaties.
On behalf of his family I kindly ask you to interfere directly as the Secretary General of the United Nations which he has long served, or through other humanitarian organizations, to guarantee his safety, security and freedom so he can get the proper treatment.
Adel Khalifa Dorda
26 October 2011