British, Brazilian reporters held in Libya

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Libya has arrested a reporter for British newspaper The Guardian for entering the country illegally, said a well-informed source in Tripoli without providing details on the the man's situation.

At the same time, Brazil's O Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper said a Brazilian reporter who had gone missing in Libya along with the Guardian correspondent had been detained west of Tripoli.

Guardian reporter Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, an Iraqi, "entered the country illegally and he has been arrested by the authorities," said the source, who did not say when he was detained, where he was being held or what his condition was.

Earlier, The Guardian said in London that one of its correspondents had gone missing in Libya and it was urgently trying to establish his whereabouts.

Abdul-Ahad, who has been reporting from western Libya for the past two weeks, was last in touch with the daily through a third party on Sunday.

He was on the outskirts of Zawiyah, a city west of the capital that was retaken from rebels on Wednesday by forces loyal to Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi.

"The Guardian has been in contact with Libyan government officials in Tripoli and London and asked them to urgently give all assistance in the search for Abdul-Ahad and to establish if he is in the custody of the authorities," a statement said.

Abdul-Ahad has worked for The Guardian since 2004, reporting from Somalia, Sudan, Iraq and Afghanistan, the daily said.

He has won the British Press Awards foreign reporter of the year prize, and was shortlisted again this year.

He was travelling with Andrei Netto of the newspaper O Estado de Sao Paulo.

In Sao Paulo, the newspaper said it had last been in contact with Netto, who is based in Paris and has been covering the three-week-old Libyan uprising, on Sunday.

A statement added that "the Brazilian embassy is taking measures to release him."

The news comes after three BBC journalists in Libya said they had been arrested, beaten and subjected to a mock execution.

The trio were detained on Monday at a checkpoint six miles (10 kilometres) south of Zawiyah, the BBC said.

The men were then taken to a military barracks in Tripoli where they "suffered repeated assaults" by members of Libya's army and secret police before being released 21 hours later. All three have now left the country.

© 2011 AFP

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