Reporters Without Borders is worried by the government’s decision on 1 June to nationalise Libya’s few privately-owned news media, which until now were controlled by Al-Ghad, a company launched two years ago by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s son, Seif Al-Islam.
“This is clearly a retrograde measure,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The launch of several privately-owned media by Seif Al-Islam in 2007 had been seen as a positive development for press freedom in Libya. Unfortunately, the government has not played along and, two years later, it has decided to bring these media under its control. We urge the authorities to reverse this decision and to allow independent media to develop.”
A government decree said that Al-Ghad’s news media - the Allibiya satellite TV station and radio station, the newspapers Oea and Korina and the Al-Ghad printing press - would continue to operate but would henceforth be overseen by a new “National Centre for Media Services.”
Since their launch two years ago, these media had dared to criticise the government and tackle subjects that are taboo in Libya such as government opponents living abroad and Islamist groups.
Under “pressure”, Allibiya had to remove its London bureau at the beginning of last month while the station’s director was arrested on 28 April and spent 48 hours in police custody after broadcasting a programme by Egyptian journalist Hamdi Kandil that was very critical of the Egyptian government.
Libya was ranked 160th out of 173 countries in the latest Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.