Italian police said it is now taking measures to protect two Italian journalists Nello Scavo and Nancy Porsia after they reported receiving threats from Libyan national, Abdelrahman Milad – A.K.A. Bija – after they had published a report on him attending a meeting in Italy on illegal immigration, knowing that he is a human trafficker himself.
Italian Open online website said the two journalists are now under guard after Bija’s threats to sue them over their reports that he was not an official to be part of illegal immigration negotiations but rather he was a human trafficker.
Nancy Porsia said she received a threat letter from Bija that included details about her life. Meanwhile, Italian journalists’ union and other organizations in Italy expressed solidarity with the two journalists and called on media outlets to resume the investigations that were started by the two journalists.
The two Italian journalists are conducting a press investigation into the participation of Bija in Libyan illegal immigration officials’ meetings with Italian authorities two years ago.
Two meetings for Bija in 2017 were documented by the two journalists. Bija is accused of human rights violations and human trafficking by the United Nations. One meeting was with Italian coast guard and this has caused embarrassment to the Italian government and raises questions about the deals Italin coastguards made with Libyan counterparts.
After reports by the two journalists on Avvenire newspaper citing L’Espresso IOM asked Italian consulate in Tunisia to give visas to the Libyan delegation that included Bija, while Italian authorities said he arrived in Italy on forged documents and then-Interior Minister Marco Minitti said he didn’t know Bija was in Italy.
A UN security report published in June 2017 described Bija as a bloodthirsty human trafficker responsible for shootings at sea and suspected of drowning dozens of people. He is considered to be the leader of a criminal organisation operating in the Zawyah area in north-west Libya, about 28 miles west of Tripoli.
According to Avvenire, which obtained the photos from a source present at the meeting, Bija obtained a pass to enter Italy and take part in the meeting, which was also attended by north African delegates from a handful of international humanitarian agencies. Bija was presented at the meeting as “a commander of the Libyan coastguard”.
According to the Italian newspaper’s source, Bija that day asked the Italian authorities for funds to manage the reception of migrants in Libya.
Bija’s story came as the Italian foreign minister, Luigi Di Maio, presented a new decree regarding asylum seekers, which he said would cut the time it took for a decision on whether a migrant should be repatriated to four months. This undermines Italy’s credibility regarding the illegal immigration issues and opens door for believing the reports of NGOs that Italy is taking advantage of illegal immigrants and even committing violations against immigrants.