Four reporters missing as Kadhafi expels 26 more: RSF

7th April 2011, Comments 0 comments

Two US journalists and a Spanish and a South African reporter were reported missing Thursday in east Libya, as the Kadhafi regime expelled 26 foreign reporters from Tripoli, media watchdog RSF said.

"Reporters Without Borders has 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 April 4," it said in a statement.

The watchdog reiterated its concern about Rana Akbani, a woman reporter of Syrian nationality, who it said has been missing in eastern Libya since March 28.

The Paris-based organisation also said it was "outraged" by the deportation of 26 foreign journalists by the Libyan government on the grounds that their visas had expired.

"The names of journalists, who had all been invited to Tripoli by the (Moamer) Kadhafi government, were posted last night in the lobby of the hotel where they were staying," it said.

RSF added that it had been told that around 100 other foreign journalists were still in the Libyan capital.

Libya has been making world headlines since February as an anti-Kadhafi revolt developed into a conflict pitting poorly-armed rebels against government forces and drawing in a NATO-led coalition with a mandate to protect civilians.

The north African state is now split between pro-Kadhafi forces controlling the capital Tripoli and most of the west and rebels controlling eastern parts, with their base in the town of Benghazi.

RSF noted that Thursday's expulsions followed a series of deportations in recent weeks, notably the deportation of The Daily Telegraph's Damien McElroy on April 3 and Reuters correspondent Michael Georgy on March 30.

Reporters Without Borders has previously 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-Kadhafi forces on March 16 as he arrived in Libya from Tunisia, it said.

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 Ataloua -- were meanwhile still being held by Kadhafi forces, it added.

Two Agence France-Presse journalists and a Getty photographer were detained for four days last month by pro-Kadhafi forces, while four New York Times journalists were also held for several days.

© 2011 AFP

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