Foreigners held in Libya on suspicion of proselytising

Map of Libya

Four foreign nationals have been arrested in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi on suspicion of being Christian missionaries, officials say.

A spokesman for Preventative Security said they were under investigation for printing and distributing tens of thousands of books about Christianity.

Proselytising was forbidden in the predominantly Muslim country, he added.

Those arrested were an Egyptian, a South African, a South Korean and a Swede with joint US citizenship.

The Preventative Security spokesman said diplomats had been allowed to visit them in detention, but would not say where they were being held.

"We are still holding interrogations and will hand them over to the Libyan intelligence authorities in a couple of days," Hussein bin Hamid told the Reuters news agency.

Agents reportedly found the suspects in possession of 45,000 books about Christianity when they were arrested at a publishing house on Tuesday. Another 25,000 were thought to have been distributed.

Last year, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) had to suspend its activities in eastern and central Libya after its offices in Benghazi and Misrata were attacked.

The aid group was accused by some people of proselytising activities and distributing Bibles to internally displaced Tawargha people in Benghazi - accusations it strenuously denied.

Preventative Security was set up by rebel commanders during the conflict which ousted the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

More on This Story

More Africa stories

RSS

Features & Analysis

  • Cerro RicoSatanic mines

    Devil worship in the tunnels of the man-eating mountain


  • Nefertiti MenoeWar of words

    The woman who sparked a row over 'speaking white'


  • Oil pumpPump change

    What would ending the US oil export ban do to petrol prices?


  • Brazilian Scene, Ceara, in 1893Sir Snapshot

    19th Century Brazil seen through the eyes of an Englishman


Elsewhere on the BBC

  • SailingGame on

    BBC Capital discovers why certain sports seem to have a special appeal for those with deep pockets

Programmes

  • European Union's anti-terrorism chief Gilles de KerchoveHARDtalk Watch

    Anti-terrorism chief Gilles de Kerchove on the threat from returning Islamic State fighters

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.