Libyan journalist Rida Fhel el-Boum was arrested last Saturday at Tripoli airport by intelligence services who have held him since for unknown reasons, concordant sources said on Tuesday.
Mohamad al-Najem, director of the Libyan Center for Press Freedom, on Tuesday called Mr. el-Boum’s detention « enforced disappearance ».
« We have so far been unaware of what is alleged against him, » and « we are continuing contacts to obtain information on his illegal detention, » al-Najem told AFP.
The Interior Ministry of the Tripoli-based executive recognized by the UN, the Interior Ministry of the National Unity Government (GNA), denied any involvement in the journalist’s arrest.
According to a press release from the ministry, the journalist was arrested by the intelligence services, an independent body, on his arrival on Saturday at Mitiga airport in Tripoli from Tunis.
The ministry asked the intelligence services for « explanations » on « the reasons » for the arrest of Mr. el-Boum, describing the measure as « unacceptable ».
In a statement, the UN support mission in Libya (Manul) called for the « immediate release » of the journalist or « his appearance before a judicial authority ».
Protect journalists and human rights defenders
Human rights defender and journalist Rida Fhel al-Boum was « arrested and detained at Mitiga airport by an armed group based in Tripoli on Saturday evening when he arrived from Tunis, » said Manul.
The UN mission called for the protection of journalists and human rights defenders in Libya, « so that they can exercise their work freely. »
Mr. el-Boum has collaborated with numerous Libyan and foreign media and heads the organization « Libyan Independent Media », which he founded in 2018.
The conflict that erupted in early April south of the capital Tripoli, following an offensive launched by Marshal Khalifa Haftar’s troops, has exacerbated political and media cleavages.
The conflict has increased the vulnerability of journalists, most of whom have left the country.
According to the 2019 press freedom ranking established by RSF, Libya is ranked 162nd out of 180 countries.