US Citizen Captured by Libyan Militia, Accused of Inviting Muslims to 'Convert to Christianity'
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A U.S. citizen has reportedly been captured in Libya, and detained for alleged Christian evangelizing.
The citizen, identified by Libyan media as Jeff Wilson, the founder, and head of the consulting firm Libya Business, allegedly worked as a teacher in a private school in the North African country's capital of Tripoli. The report about Wilson's "arrest" has been confirmed by Agence France Presse (AFP), a French news outlet.
Libya's Internal Security Agency announced Wednesday that an American was detained for "inciting our children to renounce Islam and convert to Christianity."
The U.S. State Department confirmed to CBN News that it was aware of the reports of a U.S. citizen being detained in Libya by a militia.
"The U.S. Department of State and our embassies and consulates abroad have no greater priority than the safety and security of U.S. citizens overseas," a State Department spokesman told CBN News in an email.
"We are aware of reports of a U.S. citizen in Libya detained by a militia based in Tripoli," the spokesman said.
"When a U.S. citizen is detained overseas, the Department works to provide all appropriate assistance. The State Department's Travel Advisory for Libya is Level 4 – Do Not Travel due to crime, terrorism, civil unrest, kidnapping, and armed conflict. For more information please see the Travel Advisory and Country Information Page Libya International Travel Information (state.gov)," the spokesman noted.
"We encourage U.S. citizens traveling overseas to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP.state.gov) so they can receive important messages about their destination(s) directly, including timely Alerts and updates to Travel Advisories, and to enable the U.S. Embassy to assist in an emergency," the spokesman continued.
"Due to privacy considerations, we have no further comment," the State Department spokesman concluded.
The Libyan Observer, a Libyan news outlet posted a video to its Facebook page, showing the alleged U.S. citizen with his face blurred. The outlet explains in its post the Internal Security Agency released footage of a U.S. citizen, who was detained in Tripoli for managing a secret missionary group for the propagation of the Christian faith in Libyan Muslim society.
In the three-and-a-half-minute video, the man gives a confession about his activities in the country. His name is cut out of the audio but he gives his birth date.
"I'm being convicted of sharing the gospel with Libyans," the unidentified man said in the video. "I talk about Jesus and encourage people to believe in Jesus. This is why I'm being convicted."
The Internal Security Agency also announced it had arrested two Libyan nationals for "renouncing Islam" and for "apostasy and the promotion of atheism," the AFP reported.
According to the State Department's 2021 Report on Religious Freedom in Libya, Islam is the state religion and harsh Islamic Sharia law is the principal source of legislation. Proselytizing and the distribution or publication of information aimed at changing the country's "social structure" are effectively illegal, and the circulation of non-Islamic religious materials, missionary activity, or speech considered "offensive to Muslims" is banned.
"The criminal code effectively prohibits conversion from Islam, according to scholars and human rights advocates," the report said.
"According to one press report, the Special Deterrence Forces (SDF), a Salafist militia nominally aligned with the Government of National Unity (GNU) in Tripoli, engaged in Islamic religious policing in the capital. According to human rights activists, the SDF continued to be involved in a number of arrests and detentions of individuals whom it accused of violating Islamic law," the report continued.
Libya is listed as #5 on Open Doors' World Watch List of countries where it is dangerous to be a follower of Jesus Christ.
"Libya is effectively a lawless land where both native Christians and those passing through from other countries face extreme violence," the 2023 report said. "With no central government to maintain law and order, militant Islamic extremist groups and organized crime groups both wield power."
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