Libyan commander Hifter deposed in US civil lawsuit

Nov 7, 2022, 10:29 AM | Updated: 12:08 pm

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — A Libyan military commander who once lived in Virginia sat for a deposition Sunday in a U.S. lawsuit in which he is accused of orchestrating indiscriminate attacks on civilians and torturing and killing political opponents, according to an advocacy group that supports the lawsuit.

The plaintiffs who sued Khalifa Hifter had been waiting for years to question him directly about his role in fighting that has plagued the country over the last decade.

Hifter, commander of the self-styled Libyan National Army, is a defendant in three separate federal lawsuits in Virginia accusing him of killings and torture in that country’s civil war.

Once a lieutenant to Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, Hifter defected to the U.S. during the 1980s and spent many years living in northern Virginia. He is widely believed to have worked with the CIA during his time in exile.

Plaintiffs believe that he and his own family own significant property in Virginia, which could be used to collect any judgments entered against him in the U.S.

U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema had entered a default judgment against Hifter in July after he failed to show up for earlier depositions. Last month, though, Brinkema agreed to set aside that ruling if Hifter sat for a deposition by Nov. 6.

Hifter’s U.S. lawyer had asked the judge to reconsider the default judgment, saying Hifter’s duties as a military commander made it difficult for him to schedule a deposition. They also expressed concern that Hifter’s political opponents would use the deposition against him or that the questions would touch on sensitive political or military issues.

In an affidavit Hifter submitted in September, he said the Libyan authorities to whom he answers as commander of the Libyan National Army did not want him to participate in a deposition “because it would be used by plaintiffs and political opponents in the media.”

He also said he is a still a candidate for the Libyan presidency if and when those elections can be held.

“The false charges in this lawsuit have been used by my political opponents to undermine my candidacy and disrupt the peace process,” Khalifa said in the affidavit.

Robert Cox, Hifter’s U.S. based lawyer, did not return a call and email Monday seeking to confirm details of Sunday’s deposition.

Libya has been wracked by chaos since a NATO-backed uprising toppled Gadhafi in 2011. Over the past decade, the oil-rich nation had been split between a Hifter-backed government in the east that receives Russian support, and a U.N.-supported administration in Tripoli.

Esam Omeish, president of the Libyan American Alliance, which supports one group of plaintiffs, confirmed Sunday’s deposition and called it a “historic precedent.”

“This is a giant step towards holding him liable in this civil suit and the beginning of exposing the crimes of this warlord, who has been the biggest obstacle towards Libya’s peace and stability,” Omeish said in a statement.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


A Gila monster is displayed at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Dec. 14, 2018. A 34-year-old Color...

Associated Press

Colorado man dies after being bitten by pet Gila monster

A Colorado man has died after being bitten by his pet Gila monster in what would be a rare death by one of the desert lizards if the creature's venom turns out to have been the cause.

13 hours ago

Police clear the area following a shooting at the Kansas City Chiefs NFL football Super Bowl celebr...

Associated Press

1 dead, many wounded after shooting at Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory parade

One person died after 22 people were hit by gunfire in a shooting at the end of the Kansas Chiefs' Super Bowl victory celebration Wednesday.

8 days ago

This image from House Television shows House Speaker Mike Johnson of La., banging the gavel after h...

Associated Press

GOP-led House impeaches Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas — by one vote — over border management

Having failed to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas the first time, House Republicans are determined to try again Tuesday.

8 days ago

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, right, and Kenya's Defense Minister Aden Duale, left, listen during...

Associated Press

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin hospitalized with bladder issue

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has been hospitalized following symptoms pointing to an “emergent bladder issue."

10 days ago

Joel Osteen, the pastor of Lakewood Church, stands with his wife, Victoria Osteen, as he conducts a...

Associated Press

Woman firing rifle killed by 2 off-duty officers at Houston’s Lakewood Church run by Joel Osteen

A woman entered the Texas megachurch of Joel Osteen and started shooting with a rifle Sunday and was killed by two off-duty officers.

11 days ago

Joel Osteen, the pastor of Lakewood Church, stands with his wife, Victoria Osteen, as he conducts a...

Sponsored Content by

A woman entered the Texas megachurch of Joel Osteen and started shooting with a rifle Sunday and was killed by two off-duty officers.

Sponsored Articles


Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.


Fiesta Bowl Foundation

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade is excitingly upon us

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe is upon us! The attraction honors Arizona and the history of the game.


Canvas Annuity

Interest rates may have peaked. Should you buy a CD, high-yield savings account, or a fixed annuity?

Interest rates are the highest they’ve been in decades, and it looks like the Fed has paused hikes. This may be the best time to lock in rates for long-term, low-risk financial products like fixed annuities.

Libyan commander Hifter deposed in US civil lawsuit