Reporters Without Borders deplores the way the Gaddafi regime prevented journalists from covering the anti-government protests that followed Friday prayers in Tripoli today. Ever since the start of the uprising in mid-February, the regime has been resorting to such unacceptable methods to impose a news blackout on its use of violence against the civilian population.
The foreign journalists present in Tripoli were barred from leaving their hotels this morning. Security agents blocked all attempts by reporters to leaving the Rixos Hotel (http://www.rixos.com/) in the centre of the capital, which is being used to house 130 journalists who were invited by the government.
Threatening to arrest all those who went out without permission, government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim said the presence of journalists on the street could provoke violence.
The Internet has been disconnected since yesterday evening after suffering a great deal of disruption for several weeks (http://www.ecrans.fr/La-Libye-est-deconnectee-du-Net,12172.html). The leading Internet Service Provider presumably cooperated because its owner is none other than Mohamed Gaddafi, one of the Libyan leader’s sons.
As Reporters Without Borders already reported, the signal of the TV satellite operator Nilesat has been jammed since 23 February. The stations carried by Nilesat include Al-Hurra, Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya, which have been providing live coverage of the recent events and interviewing residents by telephone.
The Libyan authorities continue to stigmatize the foreign media. Muammar Gaddafi referred to foreign TV stations as “stray dogs” on 21 February while the foreign minister warned that any journalists entering Libya illegally would be regarded as Al-Qaeda agents by the pro-Gaddafi forces.