Reporters Without Borders is outraged by yesterday’s murder of Ali Hassan Al Jaber, a cameraman working for the Qatar-based satellite TV station Al-Jazeera, who was ambushed and shot on the outskirts of the eastern city of Benghazi. The organization voices its entire sympathy with his family and friends.
Al-Jazeera said Al Jaber was returning to Benghazi after reporting in a nearby town when unidentified gunmen opened fire on his car, killing him and another passenger.
“Even if those responsible have not yet been identified, this appalling act is clearly not a random event,” Reporters Without Borders said. “It has come at time of increasing violence against journalists by officials loyal to Muammar Gaddafi, who are launching a major counter-offensive against the insurgents. The regime does not hesitate to use brutal methods to prevent them from working freely and reporting what is really happening, so that they do not contradict the image it wants to present to the world (http://en.rsf.org/libya-two-foreign-journalists-arrested-10-03-2011,3975...).
The press freedom organization added: “Gaddafi’s expressions of hate for journalists are entirely and directly responsible for yesterday’s attack. Al Jaber’s death is a reminder of the dangers journalists run in order to cover armed conflicts. We express our full support for Al-Jazeera, which condemned his murder as a ‘cowardly crime’ and said it would use all legal methods to prosecute those responsible.”
The abuses against the press in recent days include the detention of Brazilian reporter Andrei Netto of the O Estado de São Paulo newspaper, who was held for six days, from 6 to 11 March, in Sabratha, 60 km east of Tripoli. There is still no word of Ghaith Abdul-Ahad of the London-based Guardian newspaper. He and Netto had both been covering fighting between pro-Gaddafi forces and rebels and were arrested together. Three BBC journalists were subjected to violence and to humiliating treatment by pro-government forces while detained on 7 and 8 March.
Al Jaber is the third journalist to be killed in the course of covering the wave of protests that has been rocking the Arab world since last December. Ahmed Mohammed Mahmoud of the newspaper Al-Ta'awun died on 4 February of the gunshot wound he had received a week earlier when fired on near Tahrir Square in Cairo, the site of the demonstrations that toppled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Photographer Lucas Mebrouk was killed in Tunis, Tunisia, during a demonstration last January.