New York, August 8, 2014–At least two journalists and three media workers affiliated with the privately owned Albarqa TV station were abducted at a checkpoint in the eastern Libyan city of Tobruk on Monday, according to the station and news reports. The reports said the five were taken by a militant group affiliated with Islamists after the crew covered the inauguration of Libya’s newly elected parliament.
Conflict between various militant groups, some affiliated with Al-Qaeda and some with the government, has escalated in recent months in Libya, according to news reports.
Faraj al-Maghrabi, producer for Albarqa TV, told CPJ that he was with the TV crew at the time of the abduction, but that he, Ahmed Fathy, a cameraman for the station, and telecommunications engineer Muhannad al-Hfady managed to escape. The five are correspondent Younis al-Mabrok al-Moghazy; news director Mohammed Galal; administrative worker Khaled al-Sabihi; and security guards Yousef al-Jmoudy and Abdul Salam al-Maghrabi.
Last week, three journalists from the privately owned Alassema TV were abducted while covering a demonstration in support of the Libyan army. They have not been heard from since.
“We call on the militant groups holding journalists to stop trying to censor the news by snatching media crews off the street,” said CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator, Sherif Mansour. “As the situation in Libya continues to deteriorate, we call on all parties to ensure that journalists are able to do their jobs getting information to the public, without fear of reprisal.”
Al-Maghrabi told CPJ the TV crew and their equipment were in three cars. He said the cars stopped at the checkpoint, because the militants were dressed in the same colors as the uniforms of the official Libyan army. He said the armed men dragged them out of the car at gunpoint and told them to lie on the ground.
Al-Maghrabi said he, Fathy, and al-Hafdy were able to drive away while the men were interrogating the other crew members. The militant group opened fire on the car, causing damage to the vehicle, but the journalists escaped. They called the police. When the police arrived, the journalists and their captors were gone. The journalists’ whereabouts are unknown.