New York, July 17, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the release of two Libyan television journalists who were kidnapped on July 7 after covering the country's first elections in decades.
Abdelqadir Fassouk, a reporter and cameraman for the private Misurata-based Tobacts TV station, and Yusuf Badi, a cameraman for the same station, were released on Monday, according to news reports. The journalists were headed back to the station after covering the country's historic parliamentary elections from the city of Mizdah when they were kidnapped near the city of Bani Walid, news reports said.
"We are relieved to hear of the safe return of Abdelqadir Fassouk and Yusuf Badi after their nine-day ordeal," said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney. "This kidnapping shows that Libya is still not safe for journalists, and underscores the need for the government to do more to ensure that reporters can carry out their work safely."
Fassouk and Badi were released after negotiations between officials from Misurata and Bani Walid, which were mediated by officials from Jadu, a nearby town, according to Mohamed Limdani, head of the radio department at Tobacts TV. Misurata and Bani Walid have a history of rivalry and enmity, according to news reports. Bani Walid was a stronghold of former leader Muammar Qaddafi, while Misurata was one of the first cities to protest against his rule and was captured by the rebels soon after the uprising began in February 2011. Local news reports said Bani Walid officials had demanded the release of pro-Qaddafi prisoners being held in Misurata in return for the journalists' freedom.
Fassouk and Badi were sent to Jadu on Sunday and were allowed to return to their hometown of Misurata the next day, according to news reports. The identity of the journalist's captors remains unknown, Limdani said. The journalists were aware that their captors were armed but had not been given any other details, he said.
In February, CPJ documented the capture of two British journalists by a militia in Tripoli.
- For more data and analysis on Libya, visit CPJ's Libya page here.