Father's fear for journalist held in LibyaBy Victoria Smith
March 07, 2012
A journalist from Wokingham is being held by Libyan militia in Tripoli after being snatched off the streets by an armed brigade.
The parents of Nicholas Davies-Jones, a former Wescott School and Bearwood College pupil, have been waiting for news on the wellbeing of their son and his colleague Gareth Montgomery-Johnson since they were taken on Tuesday, February 21.
Alan Davies-Jones, of Wokingham, said: “The good thing is, which gives us a little reassurance, the group that took him are not known as a murderous group.
“The boys are in a difficult situation and seem to have become pawns in a political situation over which they have no control.”
The commander of the Libyan militia that has taken Nicholas said this week the pair are being held for illegal entry and possible espionage.
Faraj Swehli told reporters the pair are still being questioned.
Mr Davies-Jones, a former civil servant, and his wife Coralie have been receiving regular updates from the Foreign Office on efforts to free Nicholas, 32.
British embassy staff have visited Nicholas and cameraman Mr Montgomery-Johnson, from Carmarthen in Wales, on at least two occasions and reported they are in good health, but very tired.
Nicholas and Mr Montgomery-Jones are believed to have been taken by a faction of the Suweihli militia, which operates out of Misrata and has operatives in Tripoli, known as the Misrata Brigade.
Mr Davies-Jones said: “On the night he was taken he was out with his cameraman and a couple of Libyans in a car.
“I think he was compiling a report on check points around the area and he came across this Misrata Brigade and they did not have visas, papers or passports on them.
“Nicholas had press accreditation but they didn’t take that at face value and that’s what prompted their arrest.”
Nicholas has been working in Libya since the uprising against ruler Colonel Muammar Gaddafi began last year. He has been providing in-depth reports on the uprising and militia for Press TV, an Iranian news network broadcast in English.
Mr Davies-Jones said: “Both the embassy and the human rights people are doing and continue to do very good work to discover why these two journalists are being held.”
Mr Swehli said the pair would remain in detention until investigations were completed.
Amnesty International has issued a demand for their release.
Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Amnesty International, said: “The detention of these journalists is unlawful and arbitrary, and their captors in the Suweihli militia must either release them immediately or transfer them into the custody of the central Libyan authorities.
“If they are being held simply for breaching visa regulations, the central authorities should release them.”
Amnesty International says the unlawful detention of the two journalists is part of a broader pattern in Libya where hundreds of armed militias are operating outside of any legal framework.
The family of Mr Montgomery-Johnson denied he had been spying.
A spokesman for the Foreign Office said: “We are providing consular assistance to the two men. The embassy in Tripoli is doing everything it can to assist the individuals.”