10 July 2012

Libya: Two TV Cameramen Abducted and Held in Bani Walid

Reporters Without Borders unreservedly condemns the abduction and continuing detention of Libyan cameraman Abdelqader Fosouk and Youssuf Badi in Bani Walid (150 km southeast of Tripoli), one of the last pro-Gaddafi strongholds to fall to the rebels during last year's war.

They have been held since 7 July, the day of nationwide parliamentary elections which they had gone to cover in Bani Walid for Tobacts TV, a station based in Misrata, 100 km north of Bani Walid.

AlWadiTV showed footage of the two cameramen, in apparent good health, saying they were arrested for entering Bani Walid illegally and for filming military areas without permission.

Mohammed Al-Swehili, the head of one of the Misrata militias, told the Associated Press he was setting a 48-hour deadline for their release. If they were not freed, "forces from all over the country would attack Bani Walid," he added.

"As well as being unjustified and constituting a serious violation of freedom of information, their abduction and detention have exacerbated the already marked regional tensions," Reporters Without Borders said. "We would condemn any use to force to obtain their release, especially as a military assault on the town would put their lives in danger. We appeal to all sides to show restraint and we call for their immediate release."

Fosouk and Badi were reportedly kidnapped at around 5 p.m., as they were about to leave Bani Walid and return to Misrata in order to vote there before the close of polls. According to information that Reporters Without Borders obtained from some sources, their abductors demanded the release of certain detainees in Misrata in return for their release.

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