New York, September 23, 2014–The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by reports that two Tunisian journalists have been held by a militia in eastern Libya for two weeks and calls for them to be freed immediately. This is the second time that Sofiene Chourabi and Nadhir Guetari have been kidnapped this month, according to reports.
Chourabi, the host and producer of the weekly program “Dossiyates” on the private Tunisian satellite channel First TV, and Guetari, a cameraman for the channel, entered Libya on September 3 to cover the eastern city of Ajdabiya, according to reports. Conflict between various militant groups, some affiliated with Al-Qaeda and some with the government, has escalated in recent months in the country, according to news reports.
On September 3, Chourabi and Guetari were kidnapped by a militia in Brega that some reports said was affiliated with the government, according to news reports. They were released four days later. On September 8, they were taken again, by a militia group near Ajdabiya, according to a statement by the Tunisian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The official statement said the journalists were “doing well.”
“Much world attention has left Libya for other hotspots in the Middle East, but the kidnapping of these journalists underlies just how dangerous it is to cover the fighting between the numerous militias operating there,” said Sherif Mansour, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. “We call on those holding Sofiene Chourabi and Nadhir Guetari to release them unharmed immediately.”
The ministry said that when the journalists were first kidnapped on September 3, it had been in contact with Libyan authorities. The ministry said it had been told that the journalists were being held for conducting journalistic work in Libya without official authorization. The journalists did not have official documents authorizing them to work in the country.
First TV said it is working with authorities, civil society groups, and other organizations, seeking the release of the journalists.