Panafrican News Agency

UN, US, Canada call for immediate release of Libyan Media Authority chairman

Tripoli, Libya (PANA) - The embassies of the United States and Canada in Libya have joined the United Nations Mission of Support in Libya (UNSMIL) in denouncing the "extrajudicial arrest of the president of the Libyan Media Authority of the government of national accord, Mohamed Baiyou, by the "revolutionary brigade of Tripoli", after receiving threats to his life.

In a statement, released Thursday, UNSMIL expressed "regret" over the "extrajudicial arrest" and called for his "immediate and unconditional release".

The Mission referred to "the arrest of Baiyou last Tuesday with his two sons and the newly-appointed head of the Libyan National Channel's programs department, Hend Ammar", noting that they learned of the release of two children of Baiyou, shortly after their arrest, then the release of Hend Ammar, on Wednesday evening, according to a statement released on its website.

It said the recent round of "arbitrary arrests" highlights the "personal risks" journalists face when "defending the right to freedom of expression" in Libya.

UNSMIL called for "respect for the rule of law", stressing that "media freedom is crucial for the democratic transition process in Libya".

It called for the need to guarantee the right to freedom of expression and the protection of journalists and media professionals.

For its part, the US Embassy in Libya condemned the "illegal" arrest of Baiyou.

In a statement, it affirmed the American support for the rule of law in Libya and the protection of journalists and all Libyans in their right to freedom of expression.

The embassy said it shared the contents of the statement from UNSMIL about the incident, in which it called for Baiyou's "immediate and unconditional" release.

The Canadian Embassy in Libya called for the "immediate and unconditional" release of Baiyou, calling for an end to "hate speech ".

The Canadian diplomatic mission joined with the UNSMIL in condemning the "extrajudicial" detention of Baiyou and others, according to a message posted on its Twitter account on Thursday.

It said "media freedom is necessary for Libyan reconciliation", adding that "the inflammatory media rhetoric, escalation and hate speech must end now".

The Canadian Embassy shared the statement by UNSMIL regarding the incident, in which it called for the "immediate and unconditional" release of Baiyou,.

The US Embassy in Libya also condemned the "illegal" detention.

Baiyou was kidnapped after he released a recording of a phone call with the commander of the "Tripoli Revolutionaries Brigade", Ayoub Abou Ras, which he called a "threat message", before the armed group published a photo indicating that he was in one of its headquarters.

In early November, the chairman of the Presidency Council, Fayez al-Sarraj, issued a decree appointing Baiyou head of the Libyan Media Authority.

-0- PANA BY/TBM/KND/VAO 22Oct2020