Four New York Times journalists were freed by the Libyan government on Monday after their six-day ordeal. They were in Ajdabiya reporting in the conflict between the government and rebels, when they were captured by military forces, the Times reported on Tuesday.
“We’re particularly indebted to the government of Turkey, which intervened on our behalf to oversee the release of our journalists and bring them to Tunisia,” Bill Keller, executive editor of the Times said. “We were also assisted throughout the week by diplomats from the United States and United Kingdom.”
The journalists are Anthony Shadid, The Times’s Beirut bureau chief, two photographers, Tyler Hicks and Lynsey Addario, and a reporter and videographer, Stephen Farrell, who was previously captured by the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2009, but was rescued by British commandos.
They became derailed last Tuesday when their driver, Mohamed Shaglouf, unintentionally approached a checkpoint which was in fact secured by pro-Gaddafi forces.
Soon after, they were subjected to physical harassment and fatal threats by the soldiers as they tried to take cover in a single-room building. However, in a turn of events, on Thursday, they were transported to Tripoli where they were sheltered in a safe-house, and allowed a brief phone call each. That was when their safety was confirmed and there location was discovered.
Meanwhile, according to AFP, two of their journalists - reporter Dave Clark and photographer Roberto Schmidt, along with Getty photographer Joe Raedle - had not been heard from since Friday evening.
Their driver, Mohammed Hamed, told AFP that on Saturday morning he took the three western journalists from Tobruk on the road to Ajdabiya, where Gaddafi loyalists have been fighting eastern rebels.
Four soldiers ordered the journalists out of their vehicle at gunpoint. Clark, an experienced foreign correspondent, identified themselves in Arabic as journalists, the driver said.
The soldiers then set fire to several vehicles, including that used by the journalists, who were put into a military vehicle and driven away.
Clark, 38, and Schmidt, 45, accompanied by Raedle, 45, a photographer from the Getty Images agency, had informed AFP editors in an email on Friday of their plans to head 35 kilometres (22 miles) out of Tobruk. They planned on meeting opponents of the regime of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and speaking with refugees fleeing the battles between rebels and the loyalists.
On Saturday the Qatar-based al-Jazeera satellite television said that four of its journalists, including a Norwegian and a Briton, are being held in Tripoli after being arrested in Libya's west.
Al-Jazeera cameraman Ali Hassan al-Jaber was killed on Mar. 12 in an ambush near the rebel stronghold of Benghazi -- the first reported death by a foreign media of a journalist in Libya since the start of the uprising.
Mohammed al-Nabbous, 28, who founded a Libyan online news channel was shot dead by snipers in Saturday while Benghazi was under attack from Gaddafi's forces.