Media watchdog urges Libya’s GNA to release journalist

Libyans chant slogans during a demonstration due to poor public services at the Martyrs' Square at the center of the GNA-held Libyan capital Tripoli on August 25, 2020. (File photo: AFP)

A media watchdog Friday urged Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) to immediately release a local journalist detained while covering recent anti-government protests in the capital Tripoli.

Libyan radio journalist Sami al-Sharif was detained Sunday by men in military uniforms affiliated with the UN-recognized GNA, according to a statement released late Thursday by the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists.

“Libyan authorities must immediately disclose whether they are holding journalist Sami al-Sharif and, if so, release him unconditionally,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour.

“The Libyan Government of National Accord must do its utmost to protect journalists from harm, and ensure that government groups are not harassing, abducting, or obstructing the press.”

Protesters rallied in Tripoli and other western provinces over corruption and deteriorating economic conditions for several straight days starting Sunday and lasting into the week.

Libyans chant slogans during a demonstration due to poor public services at the Martyrs' Square at the center of the GNA-held Libyan capital Tripoli on August 25, 2020. (File photo: AFP)

Libyans chant slogans during a demonstration due to poor public services at the Martyrs' Square at the center of the GNA-held Libyan capital Tripoli on August 25, 2020. (File photo: AFP)

On Sunday, militiamen opened fire at protesters in Tripoli’s Martyrs Square, and dozens of protesters were arrested and their whereabouts were unknown, according to an eyewitness. Al-Sharif, who was covering the protests, was also arrested.

Interior Minister Fathi Bashaga acknowledged that a Tripoli-allied militia fired live ammunition at peaceful protesters and that an investigation was opened. He did not name the militias but dismissed them as “outlawed infiltrators,” adding that they had also had abducted some protesters, who were forcefully disappeared.

London-based Amnesty International said in a Wednesday statement that at least six protesters were kidnapped by armed men and several others were wounded.

These recent protests come against the backdrop of international efforts to bring an end to Libya’s civil war.

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Last Update: Friday, 28 August 2020 KSA 14:31 - GMT 11:31
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