|Guardian correspondent Ghaith Abdul-Ahad had not been in touch with the newspaper since Sunday [The Guardian]|
Libyan government officials say they are holding an Iraqi journalist who was reporting on fighting in the west of the country for the UK’s Guardian newspaper.
Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, an experienced correspondent who has reported from conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia, is believed to have been detained along with a Brazilian journalist Andrei Netto near the coastal town of Sabratha after entering Libya from Tunisia, the Guardian said.
The Guardian said Thursday that the foreign ministry in Tripoli had confirmed Abdul-Ahad’s detention.
Netto was released on Thursday in good health and was in the care of Brazil’s ambassador to the conflict-torn country, Estado de Sao Paulo, his newspaper said.
The 34-year-old was now staying in the Tripoli residence of George Ney Fernandes, the Brazilian ambassador, the daily said.
Estado de Sao Paulo said Netto was detained eight days ago and had been held in Sabratha, a town 70km from Tripoli. The facility he was kept in was attacked on Sunday, the publication said. He was expected to leave Libya on Friday.
The newspaper gave no information about the fate of Abdul-Ahad.
On Thursday, Navi Pillay, the UN high commissioner for human rights, condemned the abuse suffered by three BBC journalists after they were detained by Libyan soldiers and secret police and said that their treatment could amount to torture.
“For them to be targeted, detained and treated with such cruelty, which could amount to torture, is completely unacceptable and in serious violation of international law,” Pillay said in a statement.
The three were beaten and subjected to a mock execution on Monday at a checkpoint 10km south of Az Zawiyah, the BBC said.
Chris Cobb-Smith, a British journalist and part of the crew, said the group were moved between several locations, in some cases alongside civilian captives who had visible injuries from heavy beatings.
The BBC reported that the crew’s identity cards were inspected at the first checkpoint, which stated clearly that they were members of the press.
On Tuesday, the crew were driven to a building in Tripoli which they believed was the headquarters of Libya’s overseas intelligence service.
The men were told to bow their heads and lined up along a wall by soldiers.
The BBC said the men were held for 21 hours before they were released, and have since left Libya.