Reporters Without Borders is very worried about the fate of Stéphane Lehr, an experienced French freelance photographer working for Polaris Images, who went missing early yesterday afternoon shortly after arriving in Benghazi with a French TV crew.The head of Polaris Images, Jean-Pierre Pappis, said the last contact with Lehr was a message received at 7 a.m. New York time (1 p.m. in Libya). “He sent us an email saying: ‘I have just arrived in Benghazi. I am trying to leave this afternoon for the front. Nothing is certain.’”One of Lehr’s fellow journalists said he set off in the direction of Ajdabiya, a town on the coast 160 km south of Benghazi.Lehr’s case brings the number of journalists currently missing in Libya to four. Agence France-Presse previously said it had received no word from two of its reporters – Dave Clark, 38, and Roberto Schmidt, 45 – since the evening of 18 March, when they were near the eastern city of Tobruk.In a statement, AFP reported that they had “said in an email on Friday evening that they intended to travel some 30 km from Tobruk on Saturday morning to meet opponents of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s regime and interview refugees fleeing the fighting.” Getty Images photographer Joe Raedle was travelling with them.Four Al-Jazeera journalists who were arrested near the western town of Zawiya are meanwhile still being held by pro-Gaddafi forces.Reporters Without Borders is also without any news of six Libyan journalists.
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Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi and his allies have not stopped their abuses in response to the UN Security Council resolution of 17 March authorizing the use of force to protect civilians. Foreign journalists and their Libyan colleagues continue to be targeted in both the east and the west of the country. Seven journalists are currently missing while a Libyan blogger was killed by a sniper on 19 March in Benghazi. Reporters Without Borders urges the Libyan authorities to end their violence against all journalists.
The Libyan blogger and journalist who was shot on 19 March was Mohamed Al-Nabbous, also known as Mo. He was providing live commentary on developments when he was killed. After the Internet was blocked in Libya, he launched his own TV station, Libya Al-Hurra, which broadcast by satellite. He was the second journalist to be killed in Libya since the start of the fighting. Al-Jazeera cameraman Ali Hassan Al-Jaber was fatally shot in an ambush as he was returning to Benghazi on 12 March. A colleague was injured in the same incident.
Al-Jazeera reported on 19 March that four of its journalists were arrested by pro-Gaddafi forces a week ago. The four – Mauritanian reporter Ahmed Vall Ould el-Dine, Tunisian reporter Lotfi Messaoudi, Norwegian photographer Ammar Al-Hamdane and British photographer Kamel Ataloua – had entered the country across the Tunisian border and were covering the fighting between rebels and government forces in Zawiya, to the west of the capital.
Agence France-Presse said it has received no word from two of its reporters – Dave Clark, 38, and Roberto Schmidt, 45 – since the evening of 18 March, when they were near the eastern city of Tobruk. In a statement, AFP reported that they had “said in an email on Friday evening that they intended to travel some 30 km from Tobruk on Saturday morning to meet opponents of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s regime and interview refugees fleeing the fighting.” Getty Images photographer Joe Raedle was travelling with them.
The four New York Times journalists who were arrested on 15 March have been released. They are currently at the Turkish embassy in Tripoli and were due to leave the country in the next few hours via Tunisia.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, there has been no work since the start of the uprising from six Libyan journalists who are known critics of the government. The CPJ said it is rumoured that they are currently being held by pro-Gaddafi forces.
I have inserted below additional items on Mohamed Al-Nabbous:
Mohammed Nabbous (d. March 19, 2011) known by his moniker “Mo,” was the founder of Libya Al-Hurra TV, the first private television station established in Benghazi, Libya in the wake of the February 17 2011 Libyan uprising in Libya, which helped spark the Libyan Revolution in 2011. Nabbous’ expectant wife announced his tragic death in a video on Libya Al-Hurra TV.
Mazen Darwich, the founder of the Syrian Centre for Media and Free Expression, was arrested on 16 March while attending a peaceful sit-in outside the interior ministry in Damascus as an observer. He was later released.
Abdeljalil Al-Singace, a blogger who like Abdulemam and 21 other human rights activists and government opponents was detained from September to February, was also reportedly arrested again on 17 March. The head of the pro-democracy and civil liberties movement Al Haq, Singace was previously arrested in 2009 for allegedly trying to destabilise the government because he used his blog (http://alsingace.katib.org) to denounce the deplorable state of civil liberties and discrimination against Bahrain’s Shiite population.
Nabeel Rajab, the head of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, was abducted from his home at about 1:30 a.m. yesterday by about 40 individuals who threatened him and beat him before finally releasing him several hours later. Rajab had been giving interviews to international news media about the government’s use of violence to disperse protests and indiscriminate killings by the armed forces (http://bahrainrights.hopto.org/en/node/3825).
CBS journalist Toula Vlahou was travelling in a car with a colleague on 19 March when riot police fired on them using shotgun pellets. Watch the video in which she tried to get an explanation from foreign minister Sheikh Khalid ibn Ahmad Al Khalifa: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dpxSPY5ZPCM.