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Journalist Saliem Alshebl on his unexpected release from Tripoli detention

Libya Channel journalist and cameraman Saliem Alshebl, who was arrested on 29 July while covering a protest at Tripoli’s Martyrs’ Square, has been released on the orders of the attorney general.

Alshebl was held by the Nawasi Brigade in a detention centre in the capital’s Ain Zara district for 18 days on unknown charges. According to his brother Musab, who spoke to Libya Channel the day after his arrest, two other journalists detained with him were released on the same day. Several other individuals, taken separately during the anti-unity government rally, remain behind bars.

Wedesnday evening Alshebl confirmed that he had been released and was safely at home.

“Today I was transferred [from the Nawasi detention center] to Ain Zara prison, whose director welcomed me and put me in the best cell. I then called my brother who came with the release papers”, Alshebl recounted.  He said he had not expected this to happen, because Tuesday a Tripoli court had ordered the extension of his detention by 15 days.

“My [sudden] release came by orders of the attorney general, whom I am very grateful to”, Alshebl said.

He told Libya Channel that the treatment given to him by the Nawasi Brigade was “excellent”. Alshebl explained that he knew the commander in charge of the detention center where he was held from the days of the Revolution. “He was nice to me, but he couldn’t do anything about my situation”, Alshebl said.

Asked about whether his arrest was linked to his work Alshebl said that he was not sure of it but that people in the brigade and in the prosecution do not like Libya Channel’s stand, and that this was likely the reason why his detention had been extended.

He said it never became clear what exactly he was accused of. During the 18 days of his detention there were conflicting reports about the charges, including espionage, possessing unregistered weapons and consuming alcohol.

In a Wednesday statement, Libya Channel expressed its gratitude to the attorney general’s office and all judicial bodies that helped end the ordeal of its colleague and his family.

The network also thanked all the local and international human rights organizations, political figures, activists, journalists and diplomats who stood by the network on this matter.

“We believe in the fundamental right to freely express ones opinions as outlined by the Constitutional Declaration, existing laws and international conventions,” Wednesday’s communique read.

“We denounce all forms of abduction and blackmail targeting journalists and media staff in all parts of Libya and call on the relevant authorities to work hard to protect them from the scourge of war and political conflicts in the country.”

The night before news of the release came, his father Salem Alshebl told Libya Channel he was afraid to visit his son.

“I am afraid to go to those who are detaining my son because I too might end up in prison. Saliem has no affiliations and forced disappearances are a practice of the former regime,” his father told Libya Channel’s Newsroom program Tuesday night.

“Those in charge of Saliem’s detention are good men and they are treating him well, but the legal measure was flawed,” he added.

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