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Journalists Increasingly at Risk in Libya - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Demonstrators calling for the passing of a legislation barring former aides to deposed dictator Muammar Gaddafi from senior government posts, stage a protest in Martyrs' Square in Tripoli April 30, 2013 (REUTERS)

Demonstrators calling for the passing of a legislation barring former aides to deposed dictator Muammar Gaddafi from senior government posts stage a protest in Martyrs’ Square in Tripoli on April 30, 2013. (REUTERS)

London, Asharq Al-Awsat—Concerns are growing among journalists and human rights activists over press freedom in Libya following a spate of attacks on reporters.

Earlier this week, Mahmoud Al-Farjani, a correspondent for the pan-Arab newspaper Al-Arabiya, was kidnapped by armed men following numerous threats.

On April 28, the kidnappers seized Farjani in his Saudi-owned office building, which is situated across the street from the Foreign Ministry headquarters in Tripoli. On the day of the kidnapping, Farjani was covering a demonstration in favor of legislation to ban peoples linked to the late dictator Muammar Qaddafi from involvement in politics.

According to Reporters Without Borders (RWB), he was held for seven hours and was repeatedly beaten and threatened with execution.

This is only that latest of a series of attacks on journalists in the North African state. On the same day, members of an armed militia took over the headquarters of national television network Al-Wataniya.

According RWB, another kidnapping took place on April 22, when Yousef Bargoum, a former journalist and current director of public information for the civil registry of Benghazi, was kidnapped, beaten and tortured by armed militia. This followed a radio broadcast in which he reported the publication of official documents allegedly containing obvious falsehoods. He was released three days later and immediately hospitalized.

Aside from violent assaults, some Libyan reporters have also run afoul of the legal system. Amara Hassan Al-Khitabi, editor of the newspaper Al-Umma, was released on bail on April 21, after being detained by authorities. His arrest followed the publication of a list of 87 judges and prosecutors allegedly involved in corruption and embezzlement.

As well as the RWB, the Free Press Organization has also sought to raise the profile of this issue, and called on Ali Zeidan’s transitional government “to do everything in its power to guarantee the security of local and foreign media workers.”

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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