Libya releases four foreign journalists

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Wednesday saw Libya release four journalists, detained for six weeks and, accused of entering the country illegally. The two Americans, one British, and Spanish correspondents were taken to Tripoli's Rixo hotel upon their release.

James Foley, Clare Morgana Gillis, Nigel Chandler and Spanish photographer Manu Brabo were captured on April 4 by Muammar al-Gaddafi's military; the day prior to their release, a suspended sentence of one year and $154 fine were imposed for their illegal entry to Libya.

Moussa Ibrahim, a government spokesman, said the detainees are free to stay and carry on reporting in Libya or, if they requested to leave, could be escorted to the Tunisian border. Claiming their detention was due to confusion over the journalists' identities, and citing foreign combatants fighting with rebel forces, as the cause of the mix-up, Ibrahim offered an apology and stated that, as journalists, they are harmless.

The journalists worked for The New York Times, GlobalPost, the Atlantic, USA Today, and the BBC. The fate of South African photographer Anton Hammerl is still unclear and he is believed to be still missing.

The foreign journalists were held in different detention centres around Tripoli and refused contact with the outside world.

The conflict between uprising rebel forces and Gaddafi's Libyan government continues from February this year.

Under the UN, NATO forces are currently carrying out air strikes across Libya recently focussing attacks in Tripoli. Aiming to protect civillians from Col Muammer Gaddafi trying to quash the anti-government rebellion.