Photographer’s family relieved that he is alive

“This is fantastic news and a huge relief for the family.’’

This was the comment from Penny Sukhraj, wife of South African photographer Anton Hammerl, yesterday after hearing that her husband was alive and well.

Hammerl went missing while on assignment in Libya 19 days ago. It had been initially assumed that he was with three other journalists who also went missing on the same day.

‘‘We are grateful for this as it puts an end to speculation that he is missing or lost,” Sukhraj said via email yesterday. We hope for official confirmation from the South African government as soon as they can possibly provide it.”

On Friday, however, US journalist Clare Gillis called home from a jail in Tripoli and confirmed that Hammerl was not with them when they were captured.

News that Hammerl had been found alive was first reported by GlobalPost.

The newspaper said Libyan ­authorities had indicated that Hammerl – who went missing at the same time as GlobalPost journalist James ­Foley, Gillis and Manu Brabo, a Spanish photographer – was well and would be allowed to speak to his family soon.

GlobalPost said the South African government had ­received information from the Libyan authorities ­confirming that Hammerl was in good health.

Department of International Relations and Co-operation spokesperson Clayson Monyela on Friday night confirmed that Hammerl had been found, but by yesterday there was still no news about where he was being kept.

Monyela could not give any details on when or how Hammerl’s release would be secured.

“We can give the assurance that we will continue to work on the matter around the clock with our officials on the ground in Tripoli. Our main objective is to get him home,” Monyela said.

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