The deputy head of a media group founded by a son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has been arrested, local media said on Monday, in an apparent escalation of a power struggle inside the country’s ruling elite.
Reform-minded Saif al-Islam Gaddafi is seen as a possible successor to his father as ruler of the oil exporting state but he has been waging a turf war with a conservative old guard within his father’s entourage.
Parts of the Al Ghad media group founded by Saif al-Islam have come under pressure in the past week, with the print version of the Oea newspaper suspended and the Libya Press news agency saying some of its journalists have been arrested, Reuters reports.
“For the fourth day in a row, the Libyan internal security agency is continuing to summon and detain journalists and contributors of Libya Press,” the news agency said in a statement on its Internet site.
“The list of those detained has so far reached 20 journalists and contributors, including the deputy managing-director of Al Ghad group, Fawzi Batamr, for reasons that remain unclear.”
The news agency had said on Sunday that 10 of its reporters had been detained. There was no confirmation of the arrests from Libyan officials.
The infighting in Libya, home to Africa’s biggest proven oil reserves, is watched closely by Western oil majors including BP, Eni and Exxon Mobil.
They have poured billions of dollars into Libyan oil and gas projects and some analysts say their investments could be jeopardised by shifts in the political landscape.