Libya: Abu Salim Prisoners Freed

On Friday, prisoners in Abu Salim Jail in Tripoli fled as the fighting continued between Libyan rebels and loyalists to Muammar Qaddafi.

As rebels took the city, shooting at snipers stationed in residential neighborhoods, they broke into the prison and released political detainees were held.

Many of the cells had messages scrawled on their walls, including Koranic verses.

Human rights organizations have alleged that serious violations took place in the prison, and some detainees said they were beaten in pro-Gadhafi prisons with metal wires, sticks and batons. Some have said they were tortured with electric shocks.

Among those released from Abu Salim was US national Matthew van Dyke. He joined the rebels in Brega, telling them he would not leave the country until Libya was free.

Matthew said, "I was in Brega. That day I was taking photographs of the town. I was with the rebels, in a truck, and we were ambushed. I don't have any … I have one image, a brief memory that came to me later, but I was knocked unconscious. I was taking photographs of smiling people in the town and then I woke up in a cell next to a man being tortured in a room above me and did not know what happened."

What he found difficult to deal with was the psychological torture of not being able to speak to anyone and of being accused of being a spy.

Abu Salim prison leaves behind it a legacy of political repression during more than 40 years of Qaddafi rule.

Matthew van Dyke, Abu Salim former prisoner

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