Tuesday, November 28

Three BBC journalists in Libya kidnap horror: intelligence agents kidnap group

Three BBC journalists were kidnapped and interrogated in a Libyan torture prison for five days, sparking an international diplomatic fight to secure their release, reports have reported.

The journalists were part of a film crew making a documentary about Lebanese imam Musa al-Sadr, who was invited to the country in 1978 and disappeared.

The three, who have not been identified, were kidnapped shortly after arriving in Tripoli in March.

The crew was only released after diplomatic pressure from the UK foreign office, the Swedish government and the BBC.

The BBC journalists were traveling with reporter Kassem Hamadé, who has written an account of their captivity for the Swedish newspaper Expressen.

Kassem Hamadé was kidnapped in Libya while working with three BBC journalists

Kassem Hamadé was kidnapped in Libya while working with three BBC journalists

Hamadé wrote: ‘It is Sunday afternoon when I and the film crew will be working on the ground at the airport in Tripoli, the capital of Libya.

“We are here to make a documentary for the BBC… I still don’t know why I was kidnapped, but the closest I can get to an explanation is that the documentary I traveled to Libya to complete has scared people in intelligence.” . community, men of great power who were formerly loyal to Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

In the article, Hamadé explained the horror of being captured and thrown into a cell three meters long and two meters wide.

He said: ‘The guard’s voice is in my ear. “You will die. We will cut you to pieces and bury you here. No one knows you are here, it goes blank.”

He continued: ‘The last word, white, I know very well what it means.

‘I have known people who were tortured ‘blank’. They have been suspended at the wrists with the help of a winch until only the tips of their toes touch the ground.

‘In that position, they have been subjected to senseless violence ever since. The ones I’ve met were lucky to make it out alive. Many don’t. How will we do?

Hamadé writes that three days earlier the crew had arrived at the Tripoli airport, but even then suspicions arose.

“We are monitored,” he wrote. ‘The security people look at us with great suspicion and although all the passengers have already left the arrivals hall, we stayed three hours before our passports were stamped and we were allowed to enter the country.

Three BBC journalists were kidnapped while filming a documentary in Tripoli

Three BBC journalists were kidnapped while filming a documentary in Tripoli

‘We are two journalists, a cameraman and a producer from three different countries. We are about to complete a documentary on the Lebanese imam Musa al-Sadr, who was invited to Libya in August 1978 and disappeared.

‘Two local drivers and a bodyguard are waiting for us in the airport parking lot. They have ear plugs and are on duty the whole time, acting like we are in a war zone. It bothers me.’

Hamadé said they were booked into a hotel before they arrived, but once in the city, Libyan officials rebooked the film crew at the Radisson in Tripoli, on the shores of the Mediterranean.

The area is close to where Gaddafi had a guest house for foreign visitors.

The next morning, while they were waiting for further accreditations at the Foreign Ministry headquarters near the hotel, several officials appeared and herded the crew into a waiting car.

He wrote: ‘Me, the driver and the cameraman are forced to sit in the back seat and I end up in the middle. I look down and am in a state of controlled shock. I whisper to my companions without looking at them: ‘We are kidnapped’.

The trip goes east at high speed along the Libyan coast. My hearing expands. All sounds are amplified. Every movement rushes into my head.

”Do you know who we are? No. You’ll find out soon,’ says the man who is now in charge of the group.

“I hope it’s not IS or al Qaeda,” I whisper in the back seat.

A BBC spokesperson said: “A small team working for the BBC entered Libya in March this year with full permission to collect material for a story.

They were subsequently detained and interrogated for several days by the Libyan intelligence authorities.

‘The interrogation took place despite our authorized access to the country and without a clear reason.

“We stand with our journalists and are deeply concerned about the treatment of this team.

“The safety of those who work for the BBC is our first priority and we continue to support this team.”

A BBC insider said the station does not comment on detailed security matters and continues to support those affected by the interrogation, who had official documentation to enter the country.

An FCDO spokesman said: ‘We support four British men who have been released from detention in Libya. We raise their cases directly with the Libyan authorities.’

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