By Libya Herald reporters.
Tripoli and Tunis, 2 January 2016:
Ghwell government foreign media spokesman Jamal Zubia was arrested last night shortly after . . .[restrict]he broke up a Mitiga airport press conference being held by UNSMIL chief Martin Kobler.
Some reports had Zubia being picked up by militiamen from Abdel Raouf Kara’s Rada organisation and being taken to its Mitiga compound.
Zubia himself however told the Libya Herald that he was not detained by Kara but rather he was investigated by the airport security forces. “They wanted to understand why I stopped the press conference and what I said to him [Kobler] as it was in English”.
Zubia explained to this newspaper his intervention in Kobler’s press briefing before the UNSMIL boss boarded the UN plane to return to Tunis: “Actually I didn’t stop it but told Mr Kobler that he was breaching the law when holding a press conference without permission of the Foreign Media Department … I spoke in English and my message was clear. He apologised for the mistake and stopped himself”.
Zubia did not say on whose initiative he had brought Kobler’s briefing to a halt, threatening to withdraw the accreditation of all the journalists who were there. Officials attending a Tunis meeting with prime minister-designate Faiez Serraj told this newspaper that they doubted very much is Zubia had acted alone. They believed that the foreign press chief was working on instructions from Nouri Abu Sahmain, annoyed that Kobler had refused to hold a joint press conference after his earlier meeting the GNC president.
Kara is among the Libya Dawn elements known to back the Skirhat deal and the Government of National Accord. In another version of last night’s events, Zubia was bundled off to Rada’s Mitiga prison where two of his accredited foreign journalists were also recently detained for a while. He was then supposedly released after a short time following the intervention of a Misratan militia. Zubia’s family comes from Misrata.
Zubia has done a far better job of pitching the Libya Dawn message to foreign media than the Beida government, whose international projection has bordered on the pathetic. However he has reportedly been under a cloud since a recent interview with the UK’s Daily Telegraph in which he was thought to have exceeded his brief. In this he threatened that if the EU did not help the Tripoli administration with illegal migration Libya Dawn might launch a flood of asylum seekers toward Europe. Zubia was merely repeating a comment he had made to camera earlier in the year in a little-seen migration broadcast. [/restrict]