ISA arrests, deports two American citizens over ‘Christian proselytising’

Apr 13, 2023 | Libyan actors

On 13 April, Libya’s Internal Security Agency (ISA) released videos of what it claimed were the confessions of two Americans, who were arrested in Tripoli on charges of ‘Christian proselytising’. They were reportedly teachers at a private school in Tripoli and are accused by the ISA of being linked to a US-based missionary organization called ‘Assemblies of God’. Media reports named one of the Americans as Jeff Wilson, founder of the consulting firm Libya Business. A group of Libyans were also detained for allegedly joining the organization and converting to Christianity. Statements to media outlets by the US State Department said that ‘We are aware of reports of a US citizen in Libya detained by a militia based in Tripoli’ further stating that the State Department will work to provide appropriate assistance in such cases. It also stressed that the travel advisory for Libya is ‘Level 4 – Do Not Travel due to crime, terrorism, civil unrest, kidnapping, and armed conflict.

On 14 April, the two US citizens were reportedly released and deported back to the US via Malta. It is unclear whether the Libyan detainees were also released or remain in custody. On 15 April, the HoR issued a statement calling on foreigners in Libya to respect Libyan society and customs. This reference to the ISA as a ‘militia’ have generated controversy among some Libyan officials who stress that the ISA is a legitimate arm of the Libyan state.