A photographer arrested in eastern Libya in 2018 and jailed by a military tribunal has been freed under an amnesty from forces loyal to strongman Khalifa Haftar, official sources said on September 12.
"Ismail Abuzreiba al-Zway, sentenced to 15 years in prison, was released after benefiting from a special amnesty from the general command of the armed forces" under Haftar's control, a source in the military prosecutor's office in the city of Benghazi said.
Zway was released late Saturday, the source told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Hanan Salah, a researcher on Libya for Human Rights Watch, in a tweet showing photos of Zway’s release, wrote that it was "overdue" and came "after 3yrs of arbitrary detention."
Overdue release of #photojournalist Ismail Abuzreiba Al-Zway after 3 yrs of arbitrary detention.— Hanan Salah (@HananMSalah) September 12, 2021
A #Benghazi military court in May 2020 had sentenced Zway in a secret trial to 15 yrs in prison on trumped up “terrorism” charges.#Libyahttps://t.co/CMkn1gFvrc https://t.co/M2gkyoZztS
Zway was arrested in Ajdabiya in December 2018, a town in the east under Haftar's control.
A military tribunal in Benghazi gave him a 15-year sentence in May 2020 "for communicating with a television channel that supports terrorism," a reference to the privately run station Al-Nabaa, according to HRW's report for 2020.
Zway's conviction sparked "dismay" from the United Nations support mission in the North African country.
"The detention and trial appear to violate Libya's laws as well as its international obligations on the right to a fair trial" and freedom of expression, UNSMIL said in a tweet in August last year.
Libya is trying to extricate itself from a decade of turmoil following the 2011 toppling of dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
In March, an interim government was sworn in to lead Libya toward December 24 parliamentary and presidential polls under a U.N.-brokered peace process.
Libya ranks 165 out of 180 countries on the advocacy group Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index.