Libya: Unauthorized Journalists to Be Treated as Al Qaeda Collaborators

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WASHINGTON -- Senior Libyan officials are warning foreign journalists who have entered Libya without proper government accreditation to cover the violent unrest sweeping the country that they will be considered Al Qaeda collaborators and subject to immediate arrest, the State Department said Thursday.

In meetings with U.S. diplomats, Libyan officials said their government would not be responsible for the safety of those journalists, the department said in a statement. The officials said all journalists now in the country must be part of government approved teams and will be prosecuted on immigration charges if they are working independently, according to the department.

"Be advised, entering Libya to report on the events unfolding there is additionally hazardous with the government labeling unauthorized media as terrorist collaborators and claiming they will be arrested if caught," the department said in a notice to news organizations.

The Libyan officials told the U.S. diplomats that some journalists from CNN, BBC Arabic and Al Arabiya television would allowed into the country to cover the situation.

The warning comes as the Libyan government appears to have lost control of much of the eastern part of the nation, where some reporters are crossing the border from Egypt.