Gaddafi orders release of 20 detained journalists

Veteran Libyan leader Moamer Gadhafi has ordered the release of 20 journalists working for titles close to his reformist son, who were arrested amid a mounting backlash from conservatives.

Last Updated: Nov 09, 2010, 13:14 PM IST

Tripoli: Veteran Libyan leader Moamer Gadhafi
has ordered the release of 20 journalists working for titles close to his reformist son, who were arrested amid a mounting
backlash from conservatives, state television reported.

The Oea weekly and the Libyapress news agency, both run
by the Al-Ghad publishing company sponsored by Seif al-Islam
Kadhafi, said yesterday that 10 of their journalists had been
picked up by agents of the Internal Security Agency, among
them three Tunisians and two Egyptians.

A further 10 journalists working for Al-Ghad titles were
rounded up in a second wave of arrests, the company said.

Moamer Kadhafi yesterday "gave instructions for the
release of the Libyapress journalists and asked that an
inquiry be opened into the matter," the television said.

Libyapress earlier condemned what it called the "shameful
and scandalous" detention of its staff and demanded their
immediate release.

Al-Ghad said it had been ordered to suspend publication
of Oea after the state printing press produced its own version
of the paper on Sunday with the slightly amended title Sabah
Oea (Morning Oea) but with the same masthead and editor`s
name.

The company said the "fake" government version had no
connection with the real paper and condemned what it called a
"first in the annals of the Libyan press."

The Al-Ghad titles said the arrests may have come in
response to an editorial in Oea calling for a return to
government of some of the leaders of the 1969 revolution that
brought Kadhafi to power who have since been driven from
office.
The editorial said that the return of men like Abdelsalem
Jalloud, currently without any public position, would help in
the fight against rampant corruption.

Other Libyan sources said that the security police had
also been angered by the publication by Libyapress last
Thursday of a report that 1980s strongman Ahmed Ibrahim had
launched a campaign against the rehabilitation of political
exiles, a key policy championed by Seif al-Islam.
Since Oea and its sister title Quryna first hit the news
stands in August 2007, the Al-Ghad titles have covered a raft
of sensitive issues, including corruption, human rights and
the Islamist opposition.

The company already lost its television channel Al-Libiya
in June last year when the government made broadcasting a
state monopoly. Oea has also had to switch from being a daily
to a weekly, officially for financial reasons.

PTI