Reporters Without Borders is outraged by the Libyan government’s decision to deport 26 foreign journalists on the grounds that their visas had expired. The names of journalists, who had all been invited to Tripoli by the government, were posted last night in the lobby of the hotel where they were staying. They were initially told they would have to leave today. But the authorities announced today that their “departure was postponed until 9 April.
Today’s mass expulsion follows a series of individual arrests and deportations in recent weeks. The most recent was that of Daily Telegraph correspondent, Damien McElroy, who was asked to leave Libya on 3 April, preceded by Michael Georgy, an American journalist working for Reuters, on 30 March. The Libyan authorities provided no explanation (http://en.rsf.org/libya-journalist-arrested-in-tripoli-06-04-2011,39964.html).
Reporters Without Borders has also learned from a reliable source that four journalists – a South Africa, two Americans and a Spaniard – have been missing in the east of the country since 4 April. Their disappearance is a matter of great concern.
Yesterday, Reporters Without Borders condemned the detention of Lofti Ghars, a journalist with Canadian and Tunisian dual citizenship who works for Al-Alam TV. He was arrested by pro-Gaddafi forces on 16 March as he arrived in Libya from Tunisia.
Three Al-Jazeera journalists who were arrested in early March – Mauritian reporter Ahmed Vall Ould el-Dine, Norwegian photographer Ammar Al-Hamdane and British photographer Kamel Al-Tallou’ – are meanwhile still being held by pro-Gaddafi forces in the west of the country. A fourth Al-Jazeera journalist who was arrested at the same time, Tunisian Lotfi Messaoudi, was released on 31 March (http://en.rsf.org/libya-afp-confirms-that-three-foreign-22-03-2011,39842.html).
Reporters Without Borders also reiterates its concern about Rana Akbani, a woman reporter of Syrian nationality, who has been missing in eastern Libya since 28 March (http://en.rsf.org/libya-syrian-journalist-missing-reuters-31-03-2011,39934.html).
Two Iraqi journalists employed by the opposition newspaper Al-Wasat, Ali Al-Sherify and Raheem Al-Kabi, were arrested by the Bahraini authorities and deported on 4 April. Both had been working for Al-Wasat since 2005.
Their deportation came one day after the information ministry announced that it was closing Al-Wasat, which was founded in 2002. The national television programme “Media Watch” had accused the newspaper the day before of trying to harm Bahrain’s stability and security and of disseminating false information that undermined the country’s international image and reputation.
The Information Affairs Authority, a government agency that regulates the media, later reversed this decision and gave Al-Wasat permission to resume publishing on 4 April. But three of its most senior journalists – editor Mansour Al-Jamari, managing editor Walid Nouihid and local news editor Aqil Mirza – were forced to resign. The board of directors announced the appointment of Abidily Al-Abidily to replace Jamari as editor.
The Union of Yemeni Journalists reported today that Mansour Al-Samadi, a journalist employed by the government newspaper Al-Thawra, was abducted from his home. Samadi managed to call the union while he was in the interior minister’s office. From there he was taken to an unknown location. Reporters Without Borders is concerned about his fate and calls for his immediate and unconditional release.
Samadi is the second journalists to have been kidnapped in this manner in the past week. Abdelghani Al-Shamiri, the former news director of the state-owned radio and TV service, was kidnapped by national security officials while on his way home on 31 March in Sanaa and was taken to an unidentified location. He was released the next day after pressure from the Union of Journalists. He had recently resigned from his positions within the ruling party and declared his support for the protesters who have been calling for President Ali Abdallah Saleh’s resignation. Thereafter, he had been getting many messages threatening him or members of his family with reprisals if he continued to support the opposition movement (http://en.rsf.org/bahraini-and-syrian-authorities-04-04-2011,39946.html).
Copies of issue No. 271 of the newspaper Al-Nidda were seized at a checkpoint south of the capital on 4 April. They were to have been delivered to Taiz.