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Four journalists abducted in Libya in two seperate incidents

Reporters Without Borders condemns the steadily mounting violence against media personnel in Libya, including yesterday's abduction of four journalists in two separate incidents in the capital, Tripoli.

In the first of yesterday's two incidents, three journalists with state-owned Al-Wataniya TV who are normally based in the southern city of Sabha – photographers Faddan Hussein Al-Sakit and Ibrahim Saeed Abdelda'im and reporter Ibrahim Abdelkader Rieda – were kidnapped on Tripoli's airport road after being sent to the capital. The TV station has received no news of them since their abduction.

Younes Ali Younes, the editor of the Tripoli-based state-owned newspaper Tarablus and a journalist with the government news agency LANA, was kidnapped yesterday evening as he left a café in the capital's Zawiyat Al-Dahmani district.

Agence France-Presse quoted LANA's managing editor as saying, “five men in military dress aboard a white vehicle took him to an unknown destination.” Younes was released this afternoon but so far no details have emerged about the circumstances or motive of his abduction.

On 5 February, masked gunmen opened fire on the Benghazi bureau of the privately-owned satellite TV station Libya Likul Al-Ahrar and set fire to its satellite transmission truck, without causing any injuries. Employees of the station have been the targets of attacks in the past and bureau chief Khadija El-Emaime narrowly escaped a murder attempt in August.

Four armed men who are supposedly from official armed forces kidnapped Mohamed Al-Srit, the Benghazi bureau chief of privately-owned Al-Assima TV, at midnight on 5 February and released him at around 10 a.m. the next morning.

Srit said he was insulted, roughed up and accused of not being a real journalist and of reporting false information, especially about the Libyan armed forces. His phone's SIM card was also confiscated.

Reporters Without Borders is extremely worried by the situation in Libya three years after the start of the uprising against the Gaddafi dictatorship and urges the authorities to do everything possible to improve the environment in which the country's journalists work.

It is in every Libyan's interest to ensure that media personnel can work safely, without fear of being threatened, attacked, kidnapped or murdered.

On the eve of constituent assembly elections, Reporters Without Borders points out that freedom of information is a fundamental right that must be respected if a real democracy and the rule of law are to be established in Libya.

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