Four foreigners have been arrested in Libya on suspicion of being missionaries and distributing Christian literature, a charge that could carry the death penalty.
The four – a Swedish-American, Egyptian, South African and South Korean – were arrested in Benghazi by Preventative Security, an intelligence unit of the defence ministry, accused of printing and distributing bible pamphlets in the city.
Libya retains a law from the Muammar Gaddafi era that makes proselytising a criminal offence potentially punishable by death. The arrests underlined the sometimes difficult relationship between churches and the new authorities.
“Proselytising is forbidden in Libya. We are a 100% Muslim country and this kind of action affects our national security,” security official Hussein Bin Hmeid told Reuters.
All four remain in custody in Benghazi, and local reports say they may appear in court next week.