Three BBC Journalists Were Tortured in Libya, Two Others Missing and Detained

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Photo: Franco Origlia/Getty Images

Three BBC correspondents reported being "physically abused and psychologically terrorized" in Libya for 21 hours. The journalists were detained while trying to reach the scene of a violent battle in Zawiyah, 30 miles outside Tripoli. They said they were beaten with rifles and fists as well as being hooded and subjected to mock executions. But the prisoners they saw in the military barracks suffered much worse. Feras Killani, a correspondent for BBC Arabic, said he saw “evidence of torture” on the faces and bodies of prisoners. Goktay Koraltan, also from the BBC, told the New York Times:

“I cannot describe how bad it was. Most of them were hooded and handcuffed really tightly, all with swollen hands and broken ribs. They were in agony. They were screaming.”


Qaddafi's regime invited foreign journalists, like the BBC reporters, to come to Tripoli, promising the chance to move and report freely. But Killani, who is of Palestinian descent, was accused of being a spy, beaten, and told by his captors that they did not like his coverage of Libya. Meanwhile, Al Jazeera English reports that Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, an Iraqi correspondent for the Guardian, has not been heard from since Sunday and was last seen outside Zawiyah. Andrei Netto, a Brazilian reporter he was traveling with, has been detained. The few journalists who have made it to Zawiyah said they saw wounded bodies, fresh graves, and damage to buildings.

Qaddafi's prolonged fight against the rebels has not been deterred by economic sanctions against the Libyan government. He pays his troops, African mercenaries and Libyan supporters, with “tens of billions” hidden away in Tripoli. Western governments trying to figure out how to intervene are choosing to formally recognize the rebel administration as Libya's true government, which could help them with requesting military assistance. Nicolas Sarkozy has already recognized the rebel council as the "only legitimate representative of the Libyan people" and the Guardian says the U.K. could be next.

3 BBC Journalists Report Being Tortured in Libya [NYT]
Iraqi journalist missing in Libya [Al Jazeera English]
UK could soon recognise Libya's rebel administration, opposition leaders say [Guardian UK]