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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Four New York Times journalists missing in Libya

. Four journalists from The New York Times, including a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, have gone missing in eastern Libya, where rebels are battling Gaddafi's forces, the newspaper said on Wednesday.
The White House warned Middle Eastern governments meanwhile that American reporters should not be harassed or detained, and Britain's Guardian reported that a reporter for the newspaper had been freed from detention in Libya.
The New York Times said editors at the newspaper were last in contact with the four experienced war correspondents on Tuesday morning New York time.
The Times said it had received "second-hand reports" that members of its reporting team in the port city of Ajdabiya had been "swept up by Libyan government forces" but this could not be confirmed.
"We have talked with officials of the Libyan government in Tripoli, and they tell us they are attempting to ascertain the whereabouts of our journalists," the newspaper quoted Times executive editor Bill Keller as saying.
"We are grateful to the Libyan government for their assurance that, if our journalists were captured, they would be released promptly and unharmed," Keller said.
"Their families and their colleagues at The Times are anxiously seeking information about their situation, and praying that they are safe," he added.
The Times said the missing journalists included Beirut bureau chief Anthony Shadid, a two-time winner for foreign reporting of the Pulitzer Prize, the most prestigious US journalism award.
The others are Stephen Farrell, a reporter and videographer who was kidnapped by the Taliban in 2009 and rescued by British commandos, and two photographers, Tyler Hicks and Lynsey Addario, who both have extensive experience working in the Middle East and Africa.
White House spokesman Jay Carney urged Middle Eastern governments on Wednesday to respect American reporters.
"Our overall stand is very firm that American journalists need to be allowed to do their work, not (be) harassed or detained," Carney said.
Carney referred questions about specific efforts to trace the four missing journalists from The New York Times to the State Department.
In London, the editor-in-chief of Britain's Guardian newspaper said that an Iraqi journalist working for the newspaper has been freed from detention in Libya and has safely left the country.
"Guardian's Ghaith Abdul-Ahad freed and safely out of Libya. Heartfelt thanks to all who helped free him," Alan Rusbridger said in a Twitter message.
Libyan authorities picked up the award-winning journalist and a Brazilian reporter, Andrei Netto, on March 2 in the coastal town of Sabratha, a town 70 kilometres (45 miles) west of Tripoli, according to the newspaper.
The Brazilian was freed on March 10 but Libyan officials continued to hold Abdul-Ahad, despite protests from the newspaper.
Abdul-Ahad has worked for the Guardian since 2004, reporting from Somalia, Sudan, Iraq and Afghanistan, the daily said.
He has won the British Press Awards foreign reporter of the year prize, and was shortlisted again this year.

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