Libya releases four foreign journalists
TRIPOLI — Libya freed on Wednesday four arrested journalists — two Americans, a Briton and a Spaniard — an AFP journalist witnessed as they arrived at the capital’s Rixos Hotel.
American James Foley of GlobalPost, an online news agency, and freelance writer Clare Morgana Gillis, as well as Spanish photographer Manu Brabo disappeared on April 4 while covering the conflict in Libya.
They were released along with Briton Nigel Chandler, about whom no details were immediately available.
The four looked tired but appeared to be in good health.
The freed journalists were taken directly to a room near the reception but colleagues were prevented from meeting them. “They told me they do not want to talk to the press. They are nervous and need rest,” said government spokesman Mussa Ibrahim.
The Spanish foreign ministry said in a statement it “welcomes” the release of Brabo. It said he is in “good health” and is to be driven to the border with Tunisia on Thursday from where he will return to Spain.
On Tuesday, Ibrahim said the two Americans, Spaniards and a South African, Anton Hammerl, were to be released imminently.
However, there was no immediate information on the fate of Hammerl, who was also detained on April 4, even though the South African ambassador was at the hotel waiting for him.
Mussa on Wednesday referred to “confusion” about the journalists and said Hammerl’s whereabouts were unknown.
The previous day, he said that “four journalists were tried by an administrative tribunal and were given one-year suspended prison sentences, and a fine of 200 dinars ($154, 108 euros) each for illegal entry into the country.”
“There are some administrative procedures to complete. They will be freed very soon,” added Ibrahim, who appeared at the time to be referring to Hammerl as part of the group.
In Qatar, an Al-Jazeera journalist of Canadian-Iranian origin who went missing in Syria last month before being deported to Iran was back in Doha on Wednesday after being released, the news channel and her family said.