Libyans Clash With Police Over Detained Lawyer, Source Says

Libyan police clashed with protesters chanting anti-government slogans and demanding the release of a human rights activist early Wednesday, an independent source in the country told CNN. The about 150-200 protesters in the coastal city of Benghazi were supporting human rights activist and lawyer Fathi Terbil, who had been detained earlier, the source said.



Libyan police clashed with protesters chanting anti-government slogans and demanding the release of a human rights activist early Wednesday, an independent source in the country told CNN.

The about 150-200 protesters in the coastal city of Benghazi were supporting human rights activist and lawyer Fathi Terbil, who had been detained earlier, the source said.

Several people were arrested after police confronted the protesters, the source said.

But "there is nothing serious here," said a highly-placed Libyan source who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to talk to the media. "These are just young people fighting each other."

The source said the clashes were "not political" and that "Libya is not Egypt... This is not an organized revolution."

There were demonstrations in support of long-time Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi in several cities, including Benghazi, on Wednesday, the country's state news agency reported.

The highly-placed source characterized the clashes as "street fights" and said, "there is no police, no security in Benghazi."

CNN's independent source is not aware of further clashes in Benghazi Wednesday.

The source said the government mobilized thousands of people in several Libyan cities early Wednesday, and is conveying the message that while grievances will be addressed, calls for the regime's overthrow will not be tolerated.

The demonstrations in Libya come amid a wave of unrest that is sweeping the region and has toppled the presidents of Tunisia and Egypt this year.

It is not clear if Terbil, the lawyer, has been released, but the source expects that he will be.

The government is anxious to reduce the risk of further confrontation, the source said.

Terbil represents the families of prisoners killed in a massacre by security forces at the Abu Slim jail in Tripoli, Libya's capital, in 1996.

The source confirmed that some 100 members of the Libyan Islamist Fighters Group are due to be released later Wednesday as part of a long process of reconciliation between the group -- which once supported al Qaeda -- and the government. The releases began last year. Wednesday's release will be the final batch of prisoners.

CNN