On April 5th, Libyan security forces captured freelance journalist James Foley. Fifteen days later, there’s still no word from him nor the three other journalists captured alongside him. Foley’s friends started a petition on their behalf. We spoke to two of them to learn more about the situation and understand why he was in Libya in the first place.
The following is from Tom Durkin:
This story is particularly important to me because James Foley is one of my best friends. We have known each other since entering Marquette University in 1992. Upon completion of his MFA, Jim moved to Chicago and took a position teaching reading and writing skills to convicted felons at the Cook County Boot Camp. A firm believer in redemption, Jim felt that these inmates, ages 17-35, deserved a chance to change their direction in life. For 2 1/2 years, Jim helped these young men hone their writing skills and, in the process, view their lives differently.
Jim, however, was not done seeking new challenges. He enrolled in the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and earned another Masters Degree. Completing his degree in early 2008… he embedded with Indiana National Guard and spent over 18 months covering the war in Iraq. Jim eventually embedded in Afghanistan and ultimately moved on to doing freelance reporting in Libya when the uprising began.
Jim has an insatiable desire to uncover the truth. He is a noble man who wants nothing more than to report from various regions of the world so that those of us in America understand what is taking place.
Liz Nielsen, another friend, adds:
When I first learned of the capture of journalist James Foley by the Libyan troops via a friend on Facebook, it gave me a start. For 13 years I’ve been working to mobilize supporters of nonprofit organizations in the digital space–encouraging individuals to give, contact legislators, volunteer, engage friends/family in support of a cause. But I’d never been a part of a movement to effect change for someone I know personally.
Jim’s made it his priority to give back to his community and the world around him. Bringing attention to his detention and that of his fellow detainees is something we can all feel deeply about and all make an effort to change.
Because Foley does not work for a large news corporation, the Government of Libya is not faced with diplomatic pressure to release him. According to Durkin, “There was an indication that all four journalists would be transported to a Libyan Detention Center in Tripoli on April 7th and that they would be given a phone call and be allowed to meet with diplomats from the Turkish embassy. As of this date, there has been no other official comment from the Libyan government and the journalists have not been heard from.”
Jim has been fearless and brave and now it is our turn to return the favor. Jim and the other journalists need our support. Please sign this petition and help us bring Jim home to his family. They love and miss him very much.
The truth is that we depend on journalists like James Foley to do their job. Now he’s depending on us. Please sign the petition to demand the Libyan government release James Foley and the three other freelance journalists held with him: Clare Gillis, Manu Brabo and Anton Hammarl.