SA photographer taken hostage in Libya

2011-04-08 07:40

Anton Hammerl, a South African photographer who worked at The Star newspaper, has been taken hostage by forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, the GlobalPost news site reported today.

Hammerl was taken hostage with three other foreign journalists while reporting on the outskirts of Brega, the Boston-based news site said.

Peter Bouckaert, the director of emergencies for Human Rights Watch, who is based in Geneva, informed GlobalPost of the detentions early yesterday morning.
He said the journalists had been taken on Tuesday evening while they were reporting on the outskirts of Brega.

Bouckaert’s information had come in an email from New York Times reporter CJ Chivers who was at the scene.

“Those witnesses said that the van [journalist James] Foley was travelling in with the other journalists had been stopped by an indirect fire strike and that Gaddafi forces took the journalists prisoner and released the driver,” the GlobalPost said.

“It is believed that, along with Foley, Clare Morgana Gillis, an American freelance journalist, Manu Brabo, a Spanish photographer, and Anton Hammerl, a South African photographer, were also detained.

“Their location at this time is unknown. “Requests have been made to the Libyan foreign media office for the release of James Foley and the other journalists detained by government forces.

“We appeal to the Libyan authorities for the immediate and safe release of these journalists.”

Reporters Without Borders said it had learned “from a reliable source” that four journalists – a South African, two Americans and a Spaniard – had been missing in the east of the country since April 4.

The organisation said it was “outraged” by the deportation of 26 foreign journalists by the Libyan government for having expired visas.

Some 100 other foreign journalists are still in the Libyan capital.

Three Al-Jazeera journalists who were arrested in early March – Mauritian reporter Ahmed Vall Ould el-Dine, Norwegian photographer Ammar Al-Hamdane and British photographer Kamel Ataloua – are still being held by Gadaffi forces.

Two AFP journalists and a Getty photographer were detained for four days last month by pro-Gadaffi forces. Four New York Times journalists were also held for several days.

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