On 28 April, armed militiamen kidnapped Mahmoud Al-Farjani, correspondent for Al-Arabiya, seizing him in the Saudi-owned network’s office, which lies across the street from the Foreign Ministry.
He was covering the militia demonstration in favour of the controversial Political Isolation Law which would ban from politics former senior officials who served Qaddafi, RWB says.
RWB says that Al-Farjani was held for seven hours. His kidnappers beat him repeatedly and threatened to kill him. Before the kidnapping, the journalist had already received numerous threats arising from his work.
RWB also reports that an Iraqi journalist and a Turkish technician for the IHA Turkish network were taken by another armed group, apparently one not linked to the militia involved in the Al-Farjani kidnapping. The two were released after several hours and were not mistreated.
That same day, armed militia members occupied the headquarters of the national television network, Al-Wataniya, for several hours.
RWB also reports that on 22 April, Yousef Bargoum, a former journalist who directs public information for the civil registry in Benghazi, was kidnapped by armed militia after a radio broadcast on Al-Manar in which he disclosed obvious irregularities in municipal documents. Bargoum was held for three days.
He was badly beaten and tortured with electrical shocks during the ordeal. He recounted the experience in an interview with journalist Mabrouka al-Masmari.
Bargoum was released on 25 April and immediately hospitalised. But he quickly left the hospital, fearing his life was in danger in an insecure setting.
RWB reiterated the important role that media workers play in a democratic society, emphasizing that freedom of information is critical to the establishment of a new, democratic, transparent and pluralist Libya.
The organisation cited the UN Human Rights Committee, which noted in its “General comment No. 34” in 2011: “Freedom of opinion and freedom of expression are indispensable conditions for the full development of the person.
They are essential for any society. The two freedoms are closely related, with freedom of expression providing the vehicle for the exchange and development of opinions.”