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Two British journalists who were arrested and accused of spying by a Libyan militia group have been released. Gareth Montgomery-Johnson and Nicholas Davies, who work for Iran’s state-owned Press TV were released on Sunday and cleared of all charges. The journalist’s were arrested on 23 February by a Misrata militia based in Tripoli in a direct challenge to the authority of the country’s government. The men were transferred to the custody of the Libyan government last Wednesday and released following questioning to establish if any crime had been committed.
Two British journalists have been accused of spying in Libya by a militia group who arrested them last month. Gareth Montgomery-Johnson, 36, and Nicholas Davies, 37, from Iran’s state-owned Press TV were arrested by the militia group in Tripoli on 23 February. In a late-night press conference, Dr Suleiman Fortia, a Misratan member of Libya’s ruling National Transitional Council showed what he said was suspicious material found on the two men, including a field dressing, photographs and a photocopy of an Iranian residence permit. Fortia added that the group had governmental authority to hold the men because they represented the “February 17 Revolution”.
Parviz Safi, a cameramen for state-owned English-language TV station Press TV, was attacked with acid by three unidentified men on 6 February in the Afghan capital, Kabul. The journalist suffered second-degree burns to his face, but the substance missed his eyes and his life is not in danger. On 18 January last year, Razaq Mamoon, who worked for several media organisations and presented a programme on independent TV station Tolo TV, was also sprayed with acid. He was seriously injured and is still receiving medical treatment abroad.
BBC’s Persian TV service has faced further intimidation in Iran. It has been reported that relatives of BBC staff in London have been detained and threatened by Iranian intelligence agents; top presenters have been targeted by rumours; and one employee has subjected to an online interrogation in London after a family member in Iran was jailed.
Since its launch in 2009 channel has suffered jamming and deliberate attempts to interfere with its signal. Tensions between Britain and Iran have worsened in recent weeks, with British regulator Ofcom revoking Iranian state broadcaster Press TV’s UK licence last month for breaching the Communications Act.