CPJ: Libya detains four more international journalists

The Committee to Protect Journalists said last night that forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi had detained four further international journalists.

The four were detained on the outskirts of the city of Brega, the CPJ said, continuing the government’s pattern of arbitrary detentions and other restrictions.

Witnesses said the four journalists came under fire while traveling in a van near the north-central city, the Global Post reported, forcing them to stop.

Photographers Manuel Varela, Anton Hammerl, James Foley, and reporter Clare Morgana Gillis were detained.

Hammerl, who is a London-based South African, works for The Christian Science Monitor; Varela, who is Spanish, is a freelance photographer on contract with the European Pressphoto Agency; Foley, who is American, works for the Global Post; and Morgana Gillis, an American, is a freelancer for The Christian Science Monitor, The Atlantic, and USA Today, the CPJ said.

The New York-based press freedom charity called on authorities in Libya to stop detaining, expelling, and obstructing journalists reporting on the conflict.

Amnesty International said last month the Libyan authorities had targeted journalists working for foreign news organisations since unrest started in the country.

Reporters working for the BBC, the Guardian, AFP and a host of other international news firms have been detained since the start of the uprising.

On Wednesday, Libyan authorities told more than 20 journalists from different international news outlets to leave the country within 24 hours.

Three Al-Jazeera journalists have been detained since mid-March, while a Syrian reporter working for a Libyan newspaper was jailed on March 28, the charity said.

Since the Libyan revolt began in February, CPJ has documented more than 70 attacks on the press, including two fatalities and 45 detentions.

Most of the detained journalists have been freed, although many reported being abused in custody.

At least six local journalists who spoke critically of government policies are unaccounted for, although they are widely believed to be in government custody.

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