The Libyan Public Prosecutor, Al-Siddiq Al-Sour, ordered Friday the detention of five men on charges of advocating for atheism within the Libyan society. The men were recently arrested by the Interior Security Agency.

The Public Prosecutor's Office said on Facebook that it was investigating the activity of a secret group called Tanweer that was established in violation of Libyan laws, adding that the deputy prosecutor had started investigating the evidence that was included in the report of Interior Security Agency against the five men who were accused of advocating for atheism, insulting Islam and spreading skepticism about Islamic Sharia.

The Public Prosecutor’s Office said the five men had confessed of being atheists and agnostics as well as irreligious, in addition to being advocates for insulting Islam, adding that they had spread their ideas via social media, and social and scientific events within the Libyan society.

“The five men were asked to declare repentance for their apostasy in their investigation report, and then they would be transferred to accusation chamber before being tried.” The Public Prosecutor’s Office said.

Local and international organizations have denounced the arrest of the five men. Five Libyan rights organizations called in a joint statement for releasing the men, whom they said were arbitrarily detained.

The Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Liz Throssell, said in a statement on Friday that the UN is concerned by the deepening crackdown by the Interior Security Agency on civil society in Libya, where arbitrary arrests and a campaign of social media vilification are having a seriously chilling effect on human rights defenders, humanitarian workers, and other civil society actors.