Fathi Terbel is a 39 year-old Libyan lawyer and human rights activist. He served as the Minister of Youth and Sports in Libya’s interim government, and is considered to be one of the most influential figures of Libya’s February 17th revolution.
Terbel gained widespread recognition for his legal representation of the relatives of over than 1200 prisoners that were allegedly killed in Abu Salim Prison - in 1996 - by Libyan security forces. Among the victims of the incident were his brother, his uncle’s son, and his sister’s husband. He was detained seven times by Qaddafi forces during his life time for his outspoken opposition to injustices perpetrated by the former regime.
On February 15th 2011, Terbel led a demonstration of approximately 200 individuals whose relatives were killed in Benghazi, demanding that the Libyan authorities clarify the circumstances surrounding the deaths of their loved ones. He was arrested on the day of the protest, triggering a wave of popular indignation from relatives of the protesters.
He was released on February 16th by Abdullah Senussi (Qaddafi’s Chief of Central Intelligence) over concerns that the demonstrations advocating for his release would escalate into riots – especially in light of the domestic unrest in Egypt and Tunisia, which was being followed closely by the Libyan public.
Following the outbreak of the uprising in Libya, Terbel was appointed as a member of the National Transitional Council (NTC). On December 1st he was presented with the international “Lodvic Trio” award, in Brussels, for his contribution to human rights activism. “Foreign Policy” magazine recognized Terbel as one of the 100 Global Thinkers of 2011.