Detained Journalist Interrogated on Libyan State Television

April 1, 2011

Rana El-Aqbani, a detained journalist, appeared in an interview on Libyan state television and was grilled in a very aggressive way that seemed more like an interrogation. Watch below, with commentary from Amnesty International Libya researcher Kiana Eltahawy:

Amnesty International is gravely concerned for the safety of El-Aqbani. It emerged during the interview, that Rana, 28, a Syrian national, seems to be detained solely for her views on the need to change the political system and her contacts with people in parts of Libya controlled by the opposition.

During the interview, the presenter lays the blame for air strikes by coalition forces on Rana and “those like her,” who allegedly spread rumors and disseminated inaccurate information about the authorities’ repression of the protests and other human rights abuses. The presenter was clearly trying to discredit Rana by questioning the sources of her information, her integrity, and even her understanding of Libya as a Syrian national.

Despite receiving a grilling from the presenter, Rana bravely admitted that she wanted political change and supported the aspirations of peaceful protesters who took to the streets on February 17 to demand change.

Through the interview it also became clear that the basis for Rana’s ordeal is the content of “recordings,” most likely of her private telephone conversations, which were tapped. The presenter accused her of passing information to outsiders. It appeared through the conversation that Rana was asked to be a news correspondent (it’s unclear for whom exactly) but refused. She admits, though, to speaking regularly with people from eastern Libya, opposing the authorities in Tripoli.

El-Aqbani’s relatives in Syria did not known that Rana was detained until they saw the footage.