Anton Hammerl still alive - govt

2011-05-12 07:26

Johannesburg - South African photographer Anton Hammerl, who has been in captivity in Libya for about six weeks now, is still alive, The Star newspaper reported on Thursday.

"I think what is very critical is to make sure he remains safe, but also that we safely bring him back home," said International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.

She said government was in regular contact with the Libyan government.

Nkoana-Mashabane would not provide details.

Danger

"We believe that in a situation of political crisis, which has reached the scale of civil war, the more details you give the media, the more you risk exposing him to danger."

Responding to a question whether South African government had proof Hammerl was still alive, Nkoana-Mashabane said "yes".

Hammerl went missing on April 5 while covering the war in the northern African country.

AFP reported on Wednesday that two US reporters and a Spanish photographer captured in Libya with Hammerl have received their first visits since they were detained, amid indications they may be released.

An intermediary reportedly met with James Foley, a freelance reporter with GlobalPost, and Clare Morgana Gillis of The Atlantic, according to the Global Post.

"The intermediary said Gillis and Foley reported that Brabo was also in the same detention facility, but that they did not know the whereabouts of Hammerl", the Post said.

Family concerned

Anxiety over Hammerl's whereabouts continues to grow, his family said on the Free Anton Hammerl Facebook page.

"It is with great concern that 37 days have passed with us having absolutely no contact with Anton," Hammerl’s wife, Penny Sukhraj, said on behalf of the Hammerl family.
 
She added, "He has not been allowed consular access. All we have, via the South African and Austrian governments - who themselves have received third party assurances - is the word of the Libyans that they are detaining him.
 
"The Libyans have made good on their promises and allowed intermediate access to James Foley and Clare Gillis, and we rejoice with these families. The two, and Spanish photographer Manu Brabo, have also been allowed calls to family.
 
"But we are not even sure where Anton is being held. And it is now late in the day - we are terribly distressed around the growing uncertainty of things.
 
"Why is there still a no-show where Anton is concerned - where is our husband, father, brother and son?
 
"Why is he being treated differently?
 
"Why won't they give us or consular officials access to him?
 
"These are very real questions that need to be asked right now. We are calling on government to ask these pertinent questions. We also plead with the Libyans to please give us access to Anton."

- SAPA

Read more on:    anton hammerl  |  maite nkoana-mashabane  |  libya  |  media  |  libya protests  |  uprisings
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