Once Libya's longest serving political prisoner, Ahmed El Senussi is now one of the country's leaders. Before he received the European Parliament's Sakharov Prize for Freedom of thought in Strasbourg we spoke with him about his struggle and Libya's future.
Will receiving the Sakharov Prize help rebuild Libya?
It will be of great help to me and the Libyan people, because this is the first time that a Libyan received such a prize. So if you help me to do my job properly it will help the Libyan people.
What could the EU and EP do to support the transition in Libya?
The EU can help a lot because we are trying to rebuild our country and European countries have vast experience in rebuilding after the (second world) war and we need all the help we can get, because we are building from scratch.
What is the situation in Libya at the moment?
The Libyan people are extremely happy today, because they got rid of the dictator. They are looking forward to a new future built on democracy and freedom of expression. Some people might think that Libya could descend into civil war, but there is no way that this is going to happen. People will do everything that they can to keep this new liberty and freedom.
There have been elections in Tunisia and Egypt. When will Libya follow?
Tunisia and Egypt are different cases, because they have systems in place, with security forces and an army. In Libya we lack all that so we have to start from scratch. So, for the time being we can not say when elections will take place. First we have to build a strong state, an army and police forces. And after that we will have elections.
You were imprisoned for more than 30 years. Did you ever lose hope?
No. First of all, I am a Muslim and I believe even if you face very hard times, you should remain patient. These 31 years were a test for me and I managed to survive.
The second reason was that I believe in what I did for my country (staged a coup against Gaddafi) and that helped me withstand the difficult conditions in prison. And now these efforts have been rewarded and I am very happy.
Can you forgive those that stole your life?
I forgive them because I know that people sometimes do things that they are not convinced about. There is someone who tortured me while I was in prison and I see him now in Benghazi, but I never think about doing anything to him. I leave him to his conscience. My dream has come true. I don't ask for revenge.