Journalist found shot dead in his Benghazi office

Reporters Without Borders condemns the murder of Muftah Al-Qatrani, a journalist who was found shot dead on the evening of 21 April in an armchair in the office of Al-Anwar, the media production company he ran in the eastern city of Benghazi.

Local media quoted the interior ministry as saying he was shot several times in the head. The police are investigating his death as a murder.

Aged 33, Muftah Al-Qatrani was also Libya Al-Wataniya TV’s Benghazi correspondent and had covered the clashes between government forces and Islamist militias. He was the first journalist to be murdered in Benghazi in 2015.

Reporters Without Borders is concerned about the political and security chaos in Libya, which is threatening the fragile progress achieved in the national peace negotiations being conducted between the various factions under UN aegis. Journalists are finding it hard to work under these conditions.

“We condemn the climate of violence and impunity in which journalists have to operate and we remind all political, military and civilian actors that they must respect freedom of information and journalists’ freedom, even in a civil war,” Reporters Without Borders deputy programme director Virginie Dangles said.

“The authorities must ensure that measure are taken to bring those responsible for this murder to justice. The same applies to all acts of violence against journalists and media workers.”

Little is so far known about the circumstances surrounding the murder of Al-Qatrani, who supported the Libyan national army and Gen. Khalifa Haftar’s “Operation Dignity,” a military offensive against Islamist militias and groups.

Some local media outlets and NGOs such as the Libyan Centre for Press Freedom think he must have been targeted in connection with his many TV reports and his coverage of the war in Benghazi.

According to our sources, the police have arrested two individuals on suspicion of involvement in his murder and the local criminal investigation department does not think it was necessarily linked to his journalism or to his political or ideological views.

Libya is ranked 154th out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.