A writer and political commentator who was a prisoner of conscience under Mu’ammar al-Gaddafi’s rule, has now fallen foul of Libya’s transitional authorities after making statements deemed offensive to prominent political figures during a television appearance, said Amnesty International.
Jamal al-Hajji was convicted of defamation on 31 December 2013 and sentenced to eight months in prison and a fine of 400,000 Libyan Dinar [approximately 318,650 USD]. During an interview in February 2013 on al-Wataniya, a local Libyan television channel, he accused the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohamed Abulaziz and five other politicians and public figures of conspiring against Libya and the “17 February Revolution”. Four of them lodged a complaint against Jamal al-Hajji. His appeal hearing is scheduled for Thursday 23 January.
“No one should be sent to prison for expressing their views. Free expression is one of the rights Libyans took to the streets to reclaim during the 2011 uprising against Muammar al-Gaddafi,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at Amnesty International.