New York, August 5, 2014–The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns a recent series of attacks on privately owned Alassema TV in Libya, including the abduction on Friday of three journalists who are still missing.
Alassema TV is known for its criticism of Islamist political groups in Libya, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood. The attacks come as conflict escalates between various militias, some of which are affiliated with al-Qaeda and some the government, according to news reports.
“These repeated attacks on Alassema TV must be investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice if Libyans have any hope of being served by independent news sources,” said Sherif Mansour, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa Coordinator. “We call on whoever is holding the three Alassema staff members to release them immediately.”
Alassema correspondent Mohammed Abd al-Raziq Hussein, cameraman Ahmed al-Alwani, and editor Hamad Ahmed al-Jahd, were abducted while covering a demonstration in support of the Libyan army, according to a statement released by the channel to CPJ and local press freedom group Libyan Center for Press Freedom.
The kidnapped journalists were taken from Al Shohada Square in Tripoli in a Toyota car, according to news reports, which did not offer further details. One journalist affiliated with the channel, who did not wish to be identified for his own safety, told CPJ, citing eyewitnesses who followed the car, that the crew was being held at Meetiga Air Base. The channel’s statement said the journalists had been ill-treated in captivity but did not give sources or further details.
CPJ tried to contact via Facebook the militant group in control of Meetiga Air Base but did not receive any reply.
Separately, Alassema TV reported Saturday on its official Facebook page that Moa’yad Khalifa al-Moktef, a presenter and producer for the channel, survived a shooting attempt by unknown assailants that morning in the Abu Salim neighborhood of Tripoli. The station did not offer details such as whether he had been injured.
And on Wednesday, unidentified men using homemade explosives destroyed the house of Jomaa al-Osta, the owner of the station, in the Mager neighborhood of the city of Zelten, according to news reports. The bombing ruined the home but no one was hurt, the reports said.
These are not the first attacks on Alassema TV. Gunmen stormed the offices of the station and briefly abducted at least five journalists and media workers in March, according to CPJ research.