Magharebia (Washington DC)

Libya: Journalists Targeted in Tripoli

Tripoli — In the latest assault on Libyan media, gunmen attacked the Tripoli headquarters of al-Assema TV early Wednesday (February 12th).

Three rocket-propelled grenades were fired at the building, lightly wounding a guard, AFP reported. The assailants ransacked offices and abducted several employees for a few hours.

The channel has been accused by Islamists of urging people to demonstrate against the General National Congress (GNC). The privately owned station was also assaulted last March.

On Sunday, Al-Wataniya TV reporters Ibrahim Abdel-Gader, Sadam Al-Rashidi and Ibrahim Al-Wafi, along with Abdel-Gader's brothers Ramadan and Shaban, were kidnapped on Tripoli's Airport Road.

The five men from Sabha have not been seen since.

Tarablus editor and LANA reporter Younes Ali Younes was also briefly abducted. Younes was taken Monday and released a day later unharmed.

"The party behind the kidnapping is still unknown, and so are the reasons. It may be because of the attitudes and opinions he writes in the newspaper," his brother Meftah Ben Younes told Magharebia in a telephone conversation.

LANA director Abdel Basset Abudiah said a colleague was with Younes at the time of the abduction.

"They were surprised by a car from which four to five people came out, including some wearing military uniforms and snatched Younes. He said that when he tried to speak with them, they threatened to arrest him too," Abudiah said.

Abudiah pointed out that no one knew the reason for the kidnapping.

"Our news features are credible because they are from official sources and we deal with information professionally and patiently," the LANA director pointed out.

Abudiah asked for protection for the media that had suffered "more than once from attacks due to news that some believe is not in their favour".

Targeting the media is a direct infringement on freedom of expression, he added.

A statement issued by LANA condemned the kidnapping and considered it "incompatible with international conventions and international laws, [and] all guarantors of the freedom of the media".

"Such criminal acts will not deter us from continuing our national and professional duties in spreading the bare truth and transmitting it to the domestic and international public neutrally and professionally without bias to a particular party or person. We put the interests of the country first and foremost," the statement added.

It also asked that "the competent authorities in the Ministry of Interior take responsibility in finding and tracking the kidnappers and those who stand behind them".

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