The Washington Post reports that five Western journalists are being detained in Libya. While three have been spotted in a Tripoli detention camp, two remain unaccounted for. Clare Morgana Gillis, a correspondent who writes for the Atlantic and USA Today, was last heard from on April 4th when she was in eastern Libya covering the fighting between supporters of Col. Muammar el-Gaddafi and rebel forces.
Gillis was one of the three reporters recently spotted in a government detention camp. However, South African news photographer Anton Lazarus Hammerl and American freelance journalist Matthew VanDyke have both been missing since mid-March, their whereabouts unknown.
In March, four New York Times journalists were detained by pro-Gaddafi forces for six days. They were beaten by soldiers and freed from custody at the intervention of Turkish diplomats. During the uprising in Egypt in January and February, CBS News correspondent Lara Logan was seized and assaulted by a mob in Cairo’s Tahrir Square; she was saved by a group of Egyptian women.
As the Washington Post says:
The apparent detention of the journalists highlights the continuing hazards of covering the ongoing turmoil in the Middle East and northern Africa. The Committee to Protect Journalists, an organization that tracks government harassment of the news media, said there have been more than 500 attacks on reporters since unrest began to spread in late December. Nine journalists have been killed in the region since then, the organization said, including Zakariya Rashid Hassan al-Ashiri, a blogger in Bahrain who died while in government custody this week.
The White House had called for the release of the reporters, one of whom also writes for the Global Post. The Libyan government has denied that it is holding the journalists.
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