Libya shared with Iraqi in 2011 the sad distinction of being the second most deadly country for journalists after Pakistan, where seven newsmen were slain.
A report just released by the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) records that five journalists were killed covering the conflict in Libya, The victims included Al-Jazeera cameraman Ali Hassan al-Jaber and Mohammed al-Nabbous of the online opposition broadcaster Libya Al-Hurra TV, both shot while covering unrest.
Also victims were acclaimed international photojournalists Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros, who were killed by a mortar round during the siege of Misrata and South African photographer Anton Hammerl, who was killed by Qaddafi forces and whose body has not been found.
The CPJ notes that throughout the eight month conflict, dozens of foreign and local journalists were detained, 11 for extended periods. Some were beaten and a three-man BBC team were subjected to mock executions when they were seized on the outskirts of Zawiya by members of the infamous Khamis Brigade. New York Times photographer Lynsey Addario experienced herself the serious sexual assault to which Qaddafi’s troops subjected women throughout the revolution.
The CPJ comments: “ Journalists worked in extraordinarily dangerous conditions during the 8-month uprising that ended 42 years of rule by Muammar Qaddafi and led to his death….. Qaddafi’s regime unleashed a widespread campaign to silence foreign and local journalists, detaining dozens in abusive conditions.
“In February, Qaddafi invited reporters to the capital Tripoli, only to restrict them to the Rixos hotel, monitor their every move and prevent them from reporting on anything other than the government line”.
To block news coverage, the authorities jammed satellite signals, cut the Internet service, mobile networks and landlines and attacked news facilities. However, notes the CPJ, they were unable to prevent journalists from gathering and sending information about rebel advances in the rest of the country.
The CP J report also records that last August after the NTC was established: “One journalist was brutally assaulted in Benghazi and the NTC placed one pro-Qaddafi journalist under house arrest”. [/restrict]