Journalist Jailed for Defamation

A Tripoli court has sentenced the editor-in-chief of the private Al-Ummah [Al-Umma] newspaper to five years in jail, after the publication of a list of the names of 87 judges and prosecutors he claimed were corrupt.

Amara Abdallah al-Khitabi [Omar Khatabi], 68, was sentenced in abstentia and fined 250,000 Libyan dinars ($210,000) for defamation and insulting the judiciary, according to AFP.

His lawyer Ramadan Salam, said the court delivered its verdict on August 17 when neither he nor Khitabi were present, adding, "my client wasn't informed of the judgment until this week".

Salam said he would appeal against the sentence.

Rights groups including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Reporters Without Borders (RWB) have condemned Khitabi's trial.

The court also banned al-Khitabi from practicing journalism for the duration of his prison sentence, which according to Human Rights Watch would appear to create a system where state authorities decide who can and cannot be a journalist, which violates freedom of expression standards.

(Source: AFP, HRW)

(Journalism image via Shutterstock)

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