Libya Releases 4 NYT Journalists

The Libyan government released four New York Times correspondents March 21, six days after they were captured while covering the conflict between government and rebel forces in the eastern city of Ajdabiya. One of them was a winner of an OPC award. They were released into the custody of Turkish diplomats and crossed safely into Tunisia.

They are Anthony Shadid, Beirut bureau chief who has won two Pulitzer Prizes for foreign reporting; Stephen Farell, who was kidnapped by the Taliban in 2009; Tyler Hicks; and Lynsey Addario. Shadid won the OPC’s 2003 Hal Boyle Award for best newspaper or wire service reporting from abroad when he was working for The Washington Post with the article “The Soul of Iraq: From War to Resistance and Rebirth.” Like many Western journalists, the four had entered the rebel-controlled eastern region of Libya over the Egyptian border without visas to cover the insurrection against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi. They were detained by forces loyal to Colonel Qaddafi in Ajdabiya.

The Times
described how they were treated by Libyan soldiers:  “One man grabbed her [Addario’s] breasts, the
beginning of a pattern of disturbing behavior she would experience from her
captors over the next 48 hours… . One threatened to decapitate Mr. Hicks… . The second night they spent in a jail cell with dirty mattresses on the
ground, a bottle to urinate in and a jug of water to drink,”

While this is welcomed news, other reporters are still missing. CPJ reports that Libyan authorities have been holding four Al-Jazeera tjournalists in Tripoli for several days, while Agence-France Presse
reported that two of its journalists and a third journalist are missing
in eastern Libya. On Saturday, the founder and manager of a Libyan
online broadcaster was killed by gunfire while reporting from a battle
outside Benghazi.