Thursday, May 19, 2011

5 foreign journalists freed by Libya and Iran

The Libyan government released four foreign journalists on Wednesday and a fifth reached freedom in Qatar after disappearing while on assignment in Syria, the latest reporters to be freed after being swept up while covering unrest in the Middle East.
Americans Clare Morgana Gillis and James Foley, along with British freelance reporter Nigel Chandler and Spanish photographer Manuel Varela, appeared at a Tripoli hotel after being released from six weeks of detention in Libya.

Earlier, Iranian-born Dorothy Parvaz, who has U.S. and Canadian citizenship and works for Al-Jazeera television, arrived at her network's home base in Doha after being freed by Iran. All five were reported in good health.
"I've spoken to our son," Diane Foley of Rochester, N.H., told The Associated Press. "He's in good health, he's feeling very, very relieved. He's feeling very hopeful."
She said the first thing he said to her on the phone was " 'Hey, ma, it's me. It's Jim. I'm fine, we're at a hotel.' "
She said he told her that the four were to be taken early today to the border with Tunisia, where they would cross out of Libya.
Three of the journalists — Gillis, who freelances for The Atlantic magazine and USA Today; Foley, who writes for the Boston-based news agency GlobalPost; and Varela, who works under the name Manu Brabo, were detained on April 5 near the Libyan town of Brega.
Chandler was detained separately.
They were freed a day after the Libyan government said it had given them a one-year suspended sentence on charges of illegally entering the country.
The 39-year-old Parvaz, who previously worked as a reporter and columnist for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, disappeared soon after arriving in Syria on April 29 to cover the anti-government protests there. The Damascus government disclosed on May 4 that she had been deported to Iran.
There was no word on the fate of another missing journalist, photographer Anton Hammerl, who disappeared in Libya about the same time as the four journalists released Wednesday. Gillis said she had not seen him.
Libyan government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim said Libya holds no other reporters. "At the moment, I think we have released all journalists, unless some have been captured in the past two days and I haven't heard about it," he said.

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