In 1970, he began planning to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi one year after Gaddafi had seized power in a military coup. Along with his brother and other conspirators, he sought to replace the Gaddafi government and allegedly give people a chance to choose between a monarchy or a constitutional republic. He was arrested and sentenced to death; however, in 1988 his sentence was commuted to an additional 13 years incarceration, and his family ws allowed to visit him. He stayed in solitary confinement for the first nine years of his sentence and was allegedly frequently tortured. He claims that the torture included frequent beatings with sticks, being strung up by his hands and legs, nearly drowned, and having his feet broken. After being let out of solitary confinement, he shared a cell with numerous other prisoners, including Omar El-Hariri. After being transferred to Abu Salim prison in 1984, he learned that his wife had died while he was in captivity. He received a pardon on the 32nd anniversary of Gaddafi taking power, and received US$ 107,300 (131,000 Libyan dinars) and a monthly pension of US$ 314.62 (400 Libyan dinars). He was held as a political prisoner for 31 years until his release in 2001, making him the longest incarcerated prisoner in modern Libyan history.