Guardian journalist Ghaith Abdul-Ahad in custody, Libya officials confirm

Correspondent went missing with Brazilian journalist Andrei Netto while reporting from country

Libyan government officials have confirmed that Guardian correspondent Ghaith Abdul-Ahad is in their custody after he went missing while reporting from the country.

The foreign ministry in the capital Tripoli said that Libyan authorities were holding Abdul-Ahad along with a Brazilian journalist, Andrei Netto. The two are believed to have been detained close to the coastal town of Sabratha on Monday.

Abdul-Ahad entered Libya from Tunisia and was last in touch with the paper through a third party on Sunday. He was then on the outskirts of Zawiya, a strategic town west of Tripoli which has seen fierce fighting between government and rebel forces in the past few days.

The Guardian has been in contact with Libyan officials in Tripoli and London and asked them urgently to give all assistance in the search for Abdul-Ahad and to guarantee his safety and wellbeing.

Abdul-Ahad, an Iraqi national, is a highly respected staff correspondent who has written for the Guardian since 2004. He has spent long periods in Somalia, Sudan, Iraq and Afghanistan, reporting on the stories of ordinary people and their suffering in times of conflict.

He has won many of the most prestigious awards available to foreign correspondents, including foreign reporter of the year at the British Press Awards, the James Cameron award and the Martha Gellhorn prize. He was shortlisted in February in the foreign reporter of the year category at this year's UK Press Awards.

Netto is a correspondent for the Brazilian newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo. Libya's ambassador to Brazil told Brazilian senators that Netto was about to be freed, the paper reported on its website.

Reporters Without Borders, the international press freedom watchdog, called on the Libyan authorities to immediately release the two. "Journalists should not under any circumstances be made to pay for the fighting between government forces and rebels," it said.


Ian Black, Middle East editor and Peter Beaumont in Tripoli

The GuardianTramp

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