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Foreign reporters still hounded, four New York Times journalists missing

A Libyan man inspects an anti-Gadhafi poster hanging in the street during the ongoing protest at the Tahrir square in Benghazi, Libya Saturday, March 12, 2011.

Four New York Times journalists – Beirut bureau chief Anthony Shadid, reporter and videographer Stephen Farrell and photographers Tyler Hicks and Lynsey Addario – went missing on March 15 while reporting in the Libyan port city of Ajdabiya.

In a report posted on its website Wednesday, the New York Times said it had received no news of the four since the previous day. It added that it was in contact with the Libyan authorities and hoped they would be freed soon. Shadid is a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for foreign reporting. Farrell was abducted by the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2009 and was held for four days, until rescued by British special forces.

“The disappearance of the four New York Times journalists has come amid a climate of violence and hatred towards the media that is being sustained and encouraged by the Gaddafi regime,” Paris-based press freedom group Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) said. “In a recent public address, Col Gaddafi described foreign TV stations as ‘stray dogs.’ His foreign minister said journalists who entered Libya ‘illegally’ would be regarded as Al-Qaeda supporters.”

The press freedom organisation added: “The recent arrests of journalists and the violence to which some of them have been subjected suggests that the regime is carrying out its threats. It is doing everything possible to prevent the world from seeing its counter-offensive against the rebels.”

Al-Jazeera cameraman Ali Hassan Al-Jaber was killed in an ambush near the eastern city of Benghazi on March 12. Three BBC journalists were mistreated while held for 21 hours by government forces on March 7 and 8. Brazilian journalist Andrei Netto, a staff foreign correspondent of O Estado de São Paulo, was held by the Libyan authorities from March 1-11 on the grounds that he entered the company illegally.

RSF said it was relieved at the release of Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, an Iraqi reporter working for the London-based Guardian newspaper who was arrested at the same time as Netto. The Guardian reported Wednesday that he had finally been freed and had already left Libya.

Date posted: March 17, 2011 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 84