BBC Arabic correspondents were beaten and abused by Libyan leader Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi's security forces as they made their way to the city of Zawiyeh, a rebel-held city Qaddafi supporters are waging a bloody battle to take back.
The three journalists showed identification at a Libyan army roadblock on Monday and were taken to a military barracks in Tripoli, where, alongside other Libyan detainees, they were blindfolded, handcuffed, beaten and subjected to mock executions, the network reported. They were held for 21 hours and have since flown from Libya.
The BBC condemned the "abusive treatment" of its journalists in a statement and reaffirmed its commitment to reporting on the escalating situation in Libya.
Senior Libyan officials told U.S. diplomats late last month that reporters who enter the country illegally will be considered al-Qaida collaborators and risk immediate arrest.
According to the diplomats, the same officials said that they had only approved reporters from CNN, BBC Arabic, and Al Arabiya and urged other foreign reporters to affiliate themselves with those approved news teams.
A BBC correspondent of Palestinian descent, Feras Killani, was singled out for repeated beatings, and accused of being a spy.
Separately, a Guardian correspondent, Ghaith Abdul-Ahad,went missing from the outskirts of Zawiyeh, according to the paper. “Urgent efforts” are underway to establish his location and the Guardian has been in contact with Libyan government officials in Tripoli and London and asked them for help in their search “to establish if he is in the custody of the authorities.”