Journalists face increased danger in LibyaPosted Mar 16 2011
A camera operator for Al Jazeera was killed in the rebel-controlled eastern city of Benghazi on March 12. “Ali Hassan Al Jaber was returning to Banghazi from a nearby town after filing a report from an opposition protest when unknown fighters opened fire on a car he and his colleagues were traveling in,” reported Al Jazeera.
Al Jaber was shot three times and through the heart, according to Al Jazeera. One other person in the car was also injured.
“This is an extension of the campaign against Al Jazeera, and Al Jazeera Arabic particularly – because everyone here watch [sic] Al Jazeera Arabic,” said Tony Birtley, another reporter for the network in Benghazi. “Their work has been heroic, and it has been a great shock to lose a colleague.”
Robert Mahoney, deputy director of the Committee to Protect Journalists,
Reporters Without Borders expressed outrage at the murder: “Even if those responsible have not yet been identified, this appalling act is clearly not a random event … Gaddafi’s expression of hate for journalists are entirely and directly responsible for yesterday’s attack. Al Jaber’s death is a reminder of the dangers journalists run in order to cover armed conflicts.”
Al Jaber was a Qatar national born in 1955, and help a master’s degree in cinematography from the Academy of Arts in Cairo, according to CPJ. He worked in Qatar Television for more than 20 years before joining Al Jazeera.
“Coming so soon after the detention and torture by Colonel Gaddafi’s forces of three BBS staff–who were subjected to beatings and mock executions–and the detention of other journalists, this killing is most disturbing,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa director. The BBC reporters were victims of violence and humiliating treatment on March 7 and 8, according to Reporters Without Borders.
Other threatened journalists include Atef al-Atrash, a contributor to Libyan news websites; Salma al-Shaab, head of the Libyan Journalists Syndicate; and Suad al-Turaboulsi, a correspondent for the pro-government Al-Jamahiriya, according to CPJ. All three were detained after they spoke with Al Jazeera.
Andrei Netto, a Brazilian reporter for O Estado de São Paulo, has been released after being help by Gaddafi forces for eight days. The newspaper reported that he was beaten and blindfolded while he was held in the town of Sabratha, roughly 40 miles west of Tripoli, according to Reporters Without Borders.
Netto was attempting to resolve problems at the Tunisian-Libyan border about how he had entered Libya when he was arrested, according to Reporters Without Borders. He was traveling with Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, a reporter for the Guardian.
Abdul-Ahad has not been heard from since his arrest on March 6.
Al Jaber is the first confirmed death of a journalist in the Libyan conflict, according to CPJ, the third journalist to be killed while covering recent unrest in the Arab world, according to Reporters Without Borders. Ahmed Mohammed Mahmoud died on Feb. 4 of a gunshot wound in Cairo, Egypt, and photographer Lucas Mebrouk was killed during a protest in Tunis, Tunisia in January.
CPJ has documented more than 40 attacked on journalists in Libya alone, including 25 detentions, five assaults, two attacks on news facilities, three instances of obstruction, the jamming of Al Jazeera and Al-Hurra transmissions and the interruption of Internet service. “At least six local journalists are unaccounted for as of today,” reported CPJ on March 13. “Numerous journalists have also reported the confiscation of equipment.”