WASHINGTON, D.C./TRIPOLI: Libyan government officials have warned U.S. diplomats that journalists who have entered the country illegally to cover anti-government protests are being considered to be terrorist collaborators, the U.S. State Department said on Thursday.
Several journalists, including CNN reporter Ben Wedeman, have entered Libya without permission to cover ongoing anti-government protests in Libya which have plunged the nation into chaos. The protests have been met with a violent crackdown by security forces, which reportedly included aerial bombardments on protests. Most journalists have not been allowed to enter Libya.
"In meetings with senior Libyan government officials, U.S. diplomats were told that some members of CNN, BBC Arabic and Al Arabiya would be allowed into the country to report on the current situation," the U.S. State Department said. "These same senior officials also said that some reporters had entered the country illegally and that the Libyan government now considered these reporters Al Qaida collaborators."
The Department added: "The Libyan government said that it was not responsible for the safety of these journalists, who risked immediate arrest on the full range of possible immigration charges. Foreign journalists already in Libya who are not part of the approved teams were urged to immediately join the approved teams in-country."
Scores of protesters have been killed in the nationwide unrest, but information has been difficult to obtain due to reporting restrictions by Libyan authorities. "Be advised, entering Libya to report on the events unfolding there is additionally hazardous with the government labeling unauthorized media as terrorist collaborators and claiming they will be arrested if caught," the U.S. State Department warned.
At least 300 people and as many as 1,000 people are believed to have been killed in the unrest.
(BNO NEWS )