Libya: Al Jazeera journalist killed, Guardian man still held

Al Jazeera’s network director insisted that “the truth cannot be silenced” after one of its journalists was killed in Libya on Saturday.

According to the Qatar-based rolling news network, cameraman Ali Hassaon Al Jaber was returning to the rebel-held town of Benghazi after filing a report from an opposition protest when the car he was travelling in came under fire.

Al Jazeera correspondent Tony Birtley said: “This is an extension of the campaign against Al Jazeera, and Al Jazeera Arabic particularly – because everyone here watches Al Jazeera Arabic. Their work has been heroic, and it has been a great shock to lose a colleague.”

Al Jazeera’s reporting of the Arab revolts has been widely praised and seen as a catalyst for change by spreading news about protests and highlighting instances of state repression. This has seen it come under pressure from the authorities in many of the countries it has been reporting from.

Network director Wadha Khanfar issued a robust statement insisting that Al Jazeera’s journalism will not be compromised by the killing.

He said: “Our colleague was killed in the line of duty. All our staff in Libya are working hard motivated by the ethics of the profession. They are inspired by the passion for the truth and they will continue to discharge their duties…

“We cannot be intimidated by this or any other assault and to those attempting to muzzle Al Jazeera’s voice by their criminal acts, assassinating our staff or distorting our signal I say, ‘The truth cannot be silenced, the truth has soldiers carrying a nobel mission’.”

Al Jaber was a Qatari national, born in 1955, who trained in cinematography at the Academy of Arts in Cairo.

Al Jazeera said in a statement that his killing “comes as part of the Libyan regime’s malicious campaign targeting Al Jazeera and its staff”.

The network said that it will “will relentlessly prosecute and bring to justice all perpetrators and their accomplices”.

Meanwhile, Guardian journalist Ghaith Abdul-Ahad remains in Libyan custody after being detained 12 days ago in the coastal town of Sabratha in the west of the country. A Brazilian journalist he was travelling with was released on Thursday.

Amnesty International has called for the immediate release of Abdul-Ahad saying it was “deeply concerned” for his safety.

The charity’s UK media director Mike Blakemore said: “Ghaith was handed his Amnesty Media Award in 2007. At the same ceremony the BBC’s Alan Johnston received an award on the very day he was released from captivity. On many occasions since, we have been reminded of the dangers that foreign reporters face every day.

‘All journalists operating in Libya – and in any other country – should be allowed to do their jobs without fear of arbitrary arrest or other human rights abuse.”

Amnesty International said it has received reports of scores of Libyans being subjected to enforced disappearance seemingly for their support of anti-Gaddafi protests.

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