By Sami Zaptia.
London, 22 October 2020:
UNSMIL today deplored what it called the ‘‘unlawful arrest’’ of the Head of the Libyan Media Foundation, Mohamed Omar Baiyu. It called for his immediate and unconditional release.
Mr Baiyu was arrested on 20 October along with his two sons and the newly appointed head of programmes at the Libya al-Wataniya TV channel, Ms Hind Ammar. UNSMIL said it was notified that the two sons were released soon after the arrest, while Ms Ammar was released last night.
This latest round of arbitrary arrests highlights the personal risks journalists take to promote the right to freedom of expression in Libya, UNSMIL added.
UNSMIL called for the need to respect the rule of law and reiterated that media freedom is critical to Libya’s democratic transition. The right to freedom of expression and the protection of journalists and media workers must be guaranteed, it concluded.
It will be recalled that Baiyu was kidnapped on Tuesday by the Tripoli militia, the Tripoli Revolutionaries Brigade (TRB).
Baiyu had been appointed as head of Libya’s Media Foundation by the internationally recognized Libyan prime minister, Faiez Serraj, to unify the Libyan state media’s narrative, respond to overseas based Libyan media’s output and reduce the media hate narrative.
In this regard, Baiyu downgraded references to the Anti-Khalifa Hafter war including no longer referring to Hafter as a ”war criminal”. This action did not go down well with the TRB who kidnapped him. Baiyu had worked for the Qaddafi regime as a journalist.
Serraj’s head of Media Institute Baiyu kidnapped by state recognized Tripoli militia