On Tuesday evening, the head of the Government of National Accord’s (GNA) Media Office, Mohammed Baio, has been kidnapped in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, by a GNA-affiliated armed group, known as the Tripoli Revolutionaries Brigade (TRB).
A number of accounts on social media platforms circulated a picture of Baio being kept inside the Brigade’s headquarters after he was kidnapped from his house in the Al-Sabaa area of Tripoli. Meanwhile, other sources revealed that the TRB commander, Ayoub Abu Ras, was behind the kidnapping of Baio and his two sons.
Baio had also announced prior to his kidnapping that he had received threats made by Ayoub Abu Ras for having referred Suleiman Dougha to an investigation on charges of misappropriating and embezzling 35 million dinars, in addition to combating corruption in media bodies.
“I know that it is a sacred patriotic battle for achieving the desired promised state to fight against criminality, terrorism and corruption. I will fight with courage and honour,” Baio had said regarding his duties as Head of the Media Office.
Earlier this week, Baio had instructed TV channel directors and media outlets to stop airing any form of hate speech in their programming content, and to abide by the requirements of peaceful media to bring an end to the fuelling of revenge and retaliation in Libya.
The GNA official had specified his Media Office would monitor the compliance with these instructions and that deterrent measures would be taken against media stations that continue to air content violating the new rules.
In 2019, Libya was ranked as the worst country for press freedom by the World Press Freedom Index. It was also ranked 162 in the world, out of the 180 countries covered by the Reporters Without Borders report.
The country is experiencing a bad humanitarian situation as a result of the bloody struggle for power that began since the assassination of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.