Reporters Without Borders

More arrests and disappearances in Libya and Syria, threats in Jordan and UAE

More arrests and disappearances in Libya and Syria, threats in Jordan and UAE

Published on Friday 8 April 2011. Updated on Thursday 14 April 2011.
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LIBYA

It turns out that the four journalists Reporters Without Borders reported as missing yesterday were captured near Brega on 5 April by pro-Gaddafi forces, who are presumed to be still holding them. Their current location is not known.

The four journalists are:

  • Clare Morgana Gillis, a US freelancer who is covering events in the east of the country for The Atlantic magazine’s website and other US media.
  • James Foley, a US reporter working for GlobalPost.com, Stars and Stripes and Al-Jazeera.
  • Manu Brabo, a Spanish freelance photographer.
  • Anton Hammerl, a South African freelance photographer.

According to The Atlantic’s website, rebels saw pro-Gaddafi troops destroy their vehicle, release their driver and take them away.

Their arrests bring the number of journalists currently held in Libya to nine. Reporters Without Borders calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all of them.

Two Komsomolskaya Pravda reporters, Dmitry Steshin and Aleksandr Kots, were abducted today near Adjabiya. They managed to phone their newspaper at 11:10 a.m. (Paris time) to report that gunmen had intercepted their vehicle and were taking them in an unknown direction.

Komsomolskaya Pravda deputy editor Andrei Dyatlov told Reporters Without Borders: “Steshin and Kots are experienced journalists who have covered a lot of wars, including Chechnya and Abkhazia (...) This is their third trip to Libya since the start of the war there. Nonetheless, we are very worried. This concerns not just our newspaper but all the international media, as abductions are becoming more frequent. We are in touch with the Russian foreign ministry, which has promised to do everything it can.”

A number of cameramen working for the Russian television station NTV were reportedly kidnapped at the same time as the two Komsomolskaya Pravda journalists. An NTV representative told Reporters Without Borders they were subsequently released.

Microsoft reported in a statement yesterday that its representative in Libya, Khalid El-Hasumi, was arrested by the authorities in Tripoli on 19 March. Hasumi began working for Microsoft last year. The company has been operating in Libya since 2006.

SYRIA

The Dubai-based TV station Al-Arabiya has reported that Mohamed Zaid Mistou, a Norwegian journalist of Syrian-Kurdish origin who works for its website, Al-Arabiya.net, was arrested yesterday. The Syrian authorities gave no explanation for his arrest. He went to Syria a few days before the start of the demonstrations and started covering them when they got under way. He had written many stories for the Al-Arabiya website.

The Jordanian media have reported that two journalists working for Arab Broadcasting Services, Akram Abu Safi and Sobhie Naeem Al-Assal, were arrested on 24 March.

As previously reported, a number of Syrian journalists and bloggers have also been arrested. According to the London-based Syrian Human Rights Monitoring Centre, Doha Hassan, a journalist who works for several websites, and Zaher Omareen were arrested on 27 March. Reporters Without Borders has been told that they are being held at the headquarters of the General Directorate for State Security in Damascus.

The Kurdish blogger Kamal Hussein Sheikou, the blogger Ahmed Hadifa and the journalist and writer Mohamed Dibo are all still detained. They have been held since the start of the protests.

Distribution of the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar has been banned by the Syrian authorities since 4 April.

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

Ahmed Mansoor, a blogger and human rights activist, has reported being the target of death threats posted on several blogs and social networks. “This campaign began after we posted a petition to the president and other UAE leaders calling for the parliament’s legislative and regulatory powers to be extended,” he said.

Mansoor also reported receiving a visit in the middle of the night from several policemen, who said they had come about a problem with his car. He refused to go with them. He said this incident could be used a pretext for preparing a case against him.

Reporters Without Borders deplores the climate of mistrust that is taking hold in the UAE as a result of the growing frequency of threats against netizens. It calls on the authorities not to encourage this situation and to respect freedom of expression.

JORDAN

The chief of Al-Jazeera’s Amman bureau, Yasser Abu Hilala, reported in a statement on 6 April that he has asked the police to protect him and his staff and to investigate the anonymous death threats they have been receiving as a result of their coverage of the pro-reform demonstrations in Jordan.

Al-Jazeera’s coverage blamed the violence against demonstrators on government supporters, referring to them as “baltagia” (thugs). Many Jordanians criticized the use of this term and accused the station of bias. Hilala said it was the government’s opponents who used this term and he had just quoted them.

BAHRAIN

Reporters Without Borders hails last night’s release of Mohamed Al-Maskati, a netizen known by the blog name of Emoodz (http://twitter.com/#!/emoodz). Arrested without a warrant, he spent a week in prison for unclear reasons after being threatened by a member of the royal family.

He resurfaced on Twitter today with this message of thanks: “Overwhelemed by the messages of support, thank you all.. I am fine, still getting my bearings back and spending some time with the family :)”

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