Friday, June 10, 2011

Missing Journalists in Libya : 2 missing journalists turn out to have been detained by Libya

The whereabouts of two journalists who disappeared this month while covering the war in Libya were revealed Friday and both appear to be healthy and in custody of the government, the Committee to Protect Journalists said.

Anton Hammerl, a freelance South African photographer detained early this month, is being held by the Libyan government, the New York-based, independent, nonprofit organization said in a statement.

The international news website Global Post told CPJ that Libyan authorities told the South African government that he was well and soon would be allowed to speak with his family.

And Clare Morgana Gillis, a U.S. freelancer for The Christian Science Monitor, The Atlantic and USA Today, called home Thursday for the first time since she was captured April 5 near al-Brega, CPJ reported.

She told her parents she is well and is being held in a women's civilian jail in Tripoli, according to Global Post.

CPJ expressed continuing concern over other journalists whose fate remains unclear.

"We are relieved to hear that Anton Hammerl and Clare Morgana Gillis are well but remain concerned about the other 15 journalists and media workers who are missing or remain in government custody," said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ's Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. "We urge the Libyan authorities to immediately release all detained journalists."

Human Rights Watch has also called on the Libyan government to provide information about the 15 journalists it believes are being detained inside the country.

CPJ said it has not been able to determine what happened to U.S. photographer Scott Foley and Spanish photographer Manuel Varela, who were picked up with Gillis.

Since violence erupted in Libya in February, CPJ has tallied more than 80 attacks on members of the news media, including four deaths and 49 detentions.

Md. writer among journalists missing in Libya

June 04, 2011|By SARAH BRUMFIELD, Associated Press

(06-04) 07:46 PDT BALTIMORE, (AP) --

A Baltimore author who had traveled to Libya to chronicle the uprising there has been missing for nearly three months.

Thirty-one-year-old Matthew VanDyke is believed to be in custody in Libya. He had traveled there after taking several trips across the Middle East by motorcycle. Before he left, he had been editing a book and travelogue film about the trips.

The Committee to Protect Journalists says he is one of at least 17 journalists believed to be in custody in Libya.

The State Department is appealing to the Libyan government to release Americans who are being held.

Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger held a news conference last month to call attention to VanDyke's disappearance. Two days later, Deputy Libyan Foreign Minister Khaled Kaim said he had no information about VanDyke.

Behind the ordeal: Detained Rochester journalist speaks out about his capture and release

Friday, June 10, 2011

ROCHESTER — James Foley, a freelance journalist, was working for the web-basednews agency Global Post when he was detained by pro-Gaddafi forces on April5. The Rochester man spent 44 days in various holding cells and prisons in Libya following his capture.

Foley told much about his time spent in Libya as a reporter, a detainee, and how he has been coping since his release during an hour-long webinar hosted by Global Post on Thursday.

Foley said he was interested in getting into Libya following news of a rebel uprising and entered the country with relative ease via the Egyptian border. He quickly found himself in Benghazi.

He described two different kinds of days as a freelance journalist in and around the rebel-held city.

Some days were spent in "Revolutionary Square," which Foley described as a "bombed out shell covered in anti-Gaddafi artwork." The square served as a media hub where journalists would gather to get information, share information and attend regular press conferences.

On other days he and fellow news gatherers would journey to the front line to view the action for themselves. Foley said it was typical to spend 5-6 hours talking to rebels, "trying to get a sense of what was going on," before heading back to Benghazi.

It was on one of these types of trips on April 5, that Foley was captured by Gaddafi-friendly forces and fellow journalist Anton Hammerl was shot and killed.

Foley said the intention was an extended stay on the front line of the fighting in order to get a better understanding of what was taking place. He said there was a sense early on in the trip out that something was different. Foley and fellow journalists sensed something in the body language of the driver.

"I think (fellow journalist) Anton (Hammerl) had said, 'This is dangerous,'" he said.

Approximately a kilometer outside Brega, Foley said the journalists encountered English-speaking rebels who informed them that Gaddafi forces were a mere 300 meters away.

"They told us we had to get off the road. They were about to start shelling," he said.

It was only moments after the journalists had left the road that two vehicles with Gaddafi troops approached and began shooting at the journalists and the rebels with whom they were traveling. The firing triggered a retreat by rebel forces, leaving Foley and his fellow journalists behind.

"We were there, stranded, under heavy gunfire," said Foley.

It was then, Foley said, that his instincts took over, keeping him low to the ground to avoid the gunfire. It was also at that moment Hammerl was shot and mortally wounded. Foley recalled Hammerl's cries after being hit. When Hammerl was asked if he was OK, "He said, 'No' more faintly than before."

It was the last Foley would hear from Hammerl.

Foley described the physical assault he and fellow journalist Clare Gillis underwent during his capture, his transport to Brega and later Tripoli, an hours-long interrogation he described as a "trial by fire" in Libya's capital, and several holding cells and prisons where he was detained over the course of 44 days.

He described the Libyan prisoners he encountered as educated, middle class men who not only aided Foley through his own ordeal, but also revealed the spirit behind the revolution.

"Those guys made a huge difference," Foley said, "and gave the sense that this revolution isn't going away."

Ironically, said Foley, it was people with ties to Saadi Gaddafi, the son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who would be integral in expediting Foley and his fellow journalists' release and exit from Libya.

They managed to move Foley and the others to a villa and an unidentified American woman who once served as Saadi's public relations person was able to get them through the trial.

Upon their release, Foley and Gillis determined they needed to immediately contact the proper authorities about the death of Anton Hammerl.

Foley said there is little likelihood of recovering Hammerl's remains and he is now focusing on fundraising to help support the three children he left behind. Donations are now being accepted at

"It must be excruciating for the family," he said. "He lost his life in a complete waste, that young soldiers would kill an unarmed journalist when we clearly were not returning fire."

In addition to the fundraising, Foley said he and Gillis are working through an experience they largely shared.

"It's just such a blessing," he said. "To have a colleague like Clare, we can work on the things we suppressed for a long time. There's so much work to do, to talk openly about this experience and try to write about it."

No comments:

Post a Comment