CAIRO: The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has issued a statement Tuesday condemning the recent series of attacks on Libyan journalists and especially Al Assima TV channel, including the abduction of three journalists Friday.
The statement said that the TV channel is known for its criticism of Islamist political groups including the Muslim Brotherhood in Libya, and that this attack wasn’t the first as Moa’yad Khalifa al-Moktef, a presenter and producer for the channel, survived a shooting attempt by unknown assailants Saturday morning in Abu Salim neighborhood according to Al Assima’s official Facebook page.
MENA reported last Thursday that the channel’s manager Jomaa al-Osta’s house was destroyed as a result of an explosion by anonymous men in south Zelten city, but no one was hurt as the house was empty.
Also, during March 2013, the channel reported on its Facebook page that the crew was facing anonymous attacks, as a group of unidentified men stormed its office in Tripoli and abducted at least five journalists, but released them within 24 hours.
The United Nations Support Mission in Libya shortly issued a statement condemning this attack saying that they are deeply concerned by several recent incidents, including attacks on media organizations, threats against journalists, and violence against a Coptic church and other houses of worship. “These acts violate fundamental human rights, particularly the freedom of faith and freedom of expression,” the statement read.
The three journalists who were abducted Friday and are still missing are reported, according to Al-Watan Al-Libya, Saturday to have been kidnapped from Al-Shohada Square in Tripoli in a Toyota car while they were covering demonstrations against targeting Libyan wealth and resources.
CPJ reported in its statement that one journalist affiliated with the channel, who did not wish to be identified, told them citing eyewitnesses who followed the car, that the crew was being held at Mitiga Air Base.
Mitiga Air Base is an International Airport that was normally used as a military base and an occasional private airport, it was used earlier this week to transport 72 Egyptians along with 76 Libyans into Egypt by Libyan flights and it is considered the only working airport in Libya currently, according to Veto.
Benghazi and Misrata airports have been closed since the beginning of the clashes between rival militants in Libya.
During December 2013, CPJ issued a statement specifying the most dangerous countries for journalistic work; however, Libya wasn’t among these countries while Syria, Iraq and Egypt topped the list. Even though during 2011, the year of the Libyan revolution, 5 journalists were killed according to another CPJ report in 2012.
Since the revolution that ousted longtime Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, Libya has been facing violent and sectarian unrest as many countries around the world evacuated their nationals from it.
AFP Saturday reported eyewitness testimonies from Greeks fleeing the country who described the situation in Libya as a “civil war.”
“Chaos reigns. There is no government, we have no food, no fuel, no water and no electricity for hours on end,” Araskevi Athineou, a Greek woman living in Libya, told AFP.
Egypt has been evacuating its people from Libya since last month, as Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab said in statements Saturday that the government is “doing the best it can to ensure the rapid return of Egyptians from Libya” without having to pay fees for flight tickets, Youm7 reported.
Amr Moussa, Former Arab League Secretary-General issued a statement Sunday warning that Egypt might be forced to defend itself against the escalating situation in Libya, however, Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry assured in statements to al-Masry al-Youm that Egypt is not going to participate in any military actions inside Libya.
Former Egyptian Deputy Defense Minister Maj. Gen. Nabil Foad told The Cairo Post in previous comments on Moussa’s statements Sunday that Libya is an Arab county, and it’s not logical to take any military actions against it, besides that, it enjoys its own sovereignty, describing what is happening inside it as a “quagmire”.