THE CAMPAIGN

        
We are an advocacy group calling for information on the whereabouts and release of Libyan political prisoner Jaballa Matar. We lobby governments that have relations with Libya to query the Libyan government for information regarding his disappearance and imprisonment.

Jaballa Matar, a prominent Libyan political dissident, was kidnapped from his home in Cairo in 1990. His family has not seen him since. Letters written by him were smuggled out of Libya’s notorious political prison, Abu Salim, in 1992 and 1995. They confirmed that the Egyptian authorities held him in Cairo for two days then handed him over to Libyan officials. He was then flown to Tripoli, tortured and subjected to arbitrary detention. He was never tried. His family, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International believe him to be in Libya. However, the Libyan government continues to deny any knowledge of his whereabouts.

Read what Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Zadie Smith, Ian McEwan, Michael Ondaatje and Kiran Desai have said about Jaballa Matar.

JOIN US


Support Free Jaballa Matar by:.

Signing our petition -- Joining our mailing list -- Joining our Facebook Page -- Following our twitter feeds

  • No feed items.

  
  

Advocates


Organisations and individuals campaigning for the release of Jaballa Matar include:

  

  

more »»

WHO IS JABALLA MATAR?

Jaballa Matar was born in 1939 in Ajdabiya, Libya. As a young man, he joined the Royal Libyan Army, reaching the rank of Colonel before the age of thirty. After Muammar al-Gaddafi’s 1969 coup, Matar worked for the Libyan Perminant Mission to the United Nations in New York. He, his wife, and their two sons lived in New York until 1973, when, in objection to the conduct of the new regime, Matar resigned and the family returned to Libya.

In the following years he became one of the country’s most successful entrepreneurs, bringing the American company Converse and Japan’s Mitsubishi to the Middle East. In the late 1970s his name appeared on a Revolutionary Committee list of those wanted for interrogation. In 1979 he and his family began a protracted escape out of Libya, eventually settling in Cairo.

In Egypt Matar began to voice his opposition to the Libyan dictatorship. In his articles he called for democracy, the rule of law and justice. He established a private fund that awarded scholarships and aid to exiled Libyan students, and awarded a $50,000 grant toward Libya’s first legal encycolopiedia. At the time of his abduction in 1990, he was one of the most prominent figures of the Libyan opposition and a leading member of the National Front for the Salvation of Libya.

  • News latest news

  • 21.Apr
  • ‘Looking for Jaballah Matar’, a documentary [BBC World Service Radio]
  • Looking for Jaballah Matar

    It has been 20 years since the disappearance of the leading Libyan dissident, Jaballah Matar, from his home in exile in Cairo.
    Now, his son, the Booker short-listed writer, Hisham Matar, is calling for governments around the world who have bi-lateral relations with Libya, to press for information [...]

  • 25.Feb
  • Hisham Matar’s search for his missing father [BBC Television]
  • In this BBC World News television interview, Jaballa Matar’s son, Hisham Matar, talks with Mishal Husian about his father’s case and his need to know the truth. Hisham was nineteen when his father was kidnapped. Twenty years later, he still does not know whether his father is alive or dead. Click here to watch the [...]

  • 31.Jan
  • Tutu presses Libya on jailed activist [The Observer]
  • Tutu presses Libya on jailed activist

    Prominent dissident Jaballa Matar has been missing for nearly two decades

    Jamie Doward home affairs editor
    The Observer, Sunday 31 January 2010

    Jaballa Matar’s son, the London-based novelist Hisham Matar, described Desmond Tutu’s statement as ‘extraordinary’. Photograph: Katherine Rose

    One of the world’s most respected clerics is to put pressure on the Libyan government [...]

  • Petition

  • 12.Jan
  • Sign our petition
  • Jaballa Matar, father of the 2006 Man Booker shortlisted and 2007 Commonwealth Writers’ prize-winning British author Hisham Matar, was one of the most prominent Libyan political activists. He continually called for democracy, the rule of law and justice in Libya. He was kidnapped from his home in Cairo in 1990. His family has not seen [...]

Statement by Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Featured picture
  • ‘Looking for Jaballah Matar’, a documentary [BBC World Service Radio]

    Looking for Jaballah Matar

    It has been 20 years since the disappearance of the leading Libyan dissident, Jaballah Matar, from his home in exile in Cairo.
    Now, his son, the Booker short-listed writer, Hisham Matar, is calling for governments around the world who have bi-lateral relations with Libya, to press for information [...]