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State Department warns foreign reporters in Libya

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • U.S. diplomats have met with senior Libyan officials
  • Unauthorized reporters will be labeled "terrorist collaborators" in Libya, U.S. warns
  • CNN and other networks have been denied access to Libya amid crisis

Washington (CNN) -- The Libyan government -- which has denied access to its country as security forces brutally crack down on opponents -- says it will regard foreign journalists who have crossed its borders as "terrorist collaborators," the U.S. State Department said in a statement Thursday.

The statement followed meetings between U.S. diplomats and senior Libyan government officials. The diplomats were told that some members of CNN, BBC Arabic and Al Arabiya would be allowed into the country to report on the turmoil there.

They also were told that some reporters already had entered the country illegally -- and that the Libyan government views those reporters as al Qaeda collaborators, the State Department said.

"The Libyan government said that it was not responsible for the safety of these journalists, who risked immediate arrest on the full range of possible immigration charges," the State Department said. "Foreign journalists already in Libya who are not part of the approved teams were urged to immediately join the approved teams in-country."

Despite the report of "approved teams" of reporters in the country, the Libyan government maintains tight control on communications and has denied repeated requests from CNN for access to the country.

On Monday, CNN Cairo Bureau Chief Ben Wedemen became the first Western television correspondent to enter and report from eastern Libya during the crisis.