Conflict & Justice

Libya urged to release journalists


Journalist James Foley reporting for GlobalPost from Benghazi, Libya in mid-March. Foley, along with three other foreign journalists, was detained by forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi on April 5.

BOSTON — A leading human rights organization Friday urged the Libyan government to release or at least provide information on 15 detained journalists, including GlobalPost reporter James Foley.

"Libyan and foreign journalists are facing unlawful restrictions from the government, including incommunicado detention in Tripoli," said Peter Bouckaert, emergencies director at Human Rights Watch. "If the government has nothing to hide, then it should let the media do its work."

Human Rights Watch said that nine foreign journalists and six Libyan journalists are detained or missing in Libya.

At least three of the foreign journalists — Foley, Clare Morgana Gillis and Manu Brabo — have been held incommunicado in the capital, Tripoli, since April 8. They have not been allowed to contact their families or receive visiting diplomats.

"It's now over a week since Clare Gillis, James Foley, and Manu Brabo were sent to Tripoli, and they still haven't been allowed contact with the outside world," said Bouckaert. "Their isolation is compounding the suffering of their families."

Foley, 37, an American correspondent for GlobalPost; Gillis, 34, an American freelance journalist working for The Atlantic and USA Today; and Manuel Varela, 30, who works under the name Manu Brabo, a Spanish photographer on assignment for the European Press Agency, were detained by government security forces on April 5 in Brega.

The three were held in the government stronghold of Sirte on April 6, and were transferred to a detention facility in Tripoli on April 7, Human Rights Watch said, citing reliable information. The three detained journalists were seen in custody and appeared healthy and did not seem to have been mistreated, said Human Rights Watch.

GlobalPost continues to work all the necessary and appropriate channels to secure the safe release of Foley and Gillis. GlobalPost remains in close touch with The Atlantic, USA Today, the State Department and other organizations that may influence a positive outcome.

“We remain optimistic, but continue to be concerned about James Foley and Clare Gillis as they have now been held in captivity for nearly two weeks,” said GlobalPost President and CEO Philip S. Balboni.

Foley's parents visited GlobalPost's Boston office Friday to meet with Balboni and editorial staff.

"We were moved by their strength and positive attitude during this extremely difficult time,” said Balboni. “The love they have for their son shone through, as did their pride in the reporting work to which Jim is so committed. We are all awaiting some positive news from the many people and organizations that are working with us to secure a safe release.”

(Watch videos and read stories from James Foley in Libya and Afghanistan.)