By Sami Zaptia.
Tripoli, 6 February 2013:
Earlier this week, an assault on the local Alassema TV station’s cameraman by the security guards of . . .[restrict]the General National Congress (GNC), Libya’s legislature and the guardian of its new democracy, was captured by the very victims’ camera lying on the ground.
The incident was met with public uproar as the security guards were recorded kicking and beating the helpless cameraman as he was lying on the ground.
When asked by the media at Tuesday’s press as to what steps the Prime Minister would take regarding the assault on the cameraman from the Alassema TV station, the Prime Minister said that “the government is protective of the freedom of expression and the safety of media personnel”.
“But you know the general situation of Libya”, he continued. “You know those in charge of security are either thuwar (ex-fighters) or untrained security personnel. We are in a Revolutionary situation and many things happen that are unplanned or unintended”, he explained.
“What happened was not planned nor ordered by anyone. I was just on the phone to the head of the GNC Mohamed Magarief and he assured me that he will deal with the incident firmly and if there is a case for legal action it will be referred to the Public Prosecutor”.
This is not the first time that members of the media have been mistreated, but incidents have generally decreased under the new Zeidan era. Moreover, other alleged assaults on media members have often been denied by security forces. On this occasion, and fortunately for the cameraman, the operating camera that fell on the ground was able to document the whole incident.
It is ironic that numerous groups of demonstrators, especially former fighters, are able to storm and enter the inner sanctum of the GNC building, yet media members seeking access only to public areas of the GNC building should get assaulted for simply wishing to do their job.
Continuing on the issue of freedom of the press and the mistreatment of members of the media, the Prime Minister was asked to comment about the report that a Libyan sports journalist, Walid Al-Mihoub, was under arrest in Lebanon. The Prime Minister said that Libya was assured by the Lebanese authorities that he had been released earlier ion Tuesday. [/restrict]