Monday, March 21, 2011

Gadhafi loyalists release ex-N.C. photographer

You might be unaware of this North Carolina connection to the conflict in Libya. A former Wilmington Star News photographer, Tyler Hicks, was among the four New York Times journalists "detained" by Libyan forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi. They were held captive for six days and released today (Monday), according to the Times.

The three others were Pulitzer Prize winner Anthony Shadid, Beirut bureau chief; Stephen Farrell, a reporter and videographer who was kidnapped by the Taliban in 2009 and rescued by British commandos; and photographer Lynsey Addario.

Gadhafi's son, Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, said in an ABC News interview with Christiane Amanpour on Friday that the four had entered the country illegally and were arrested in the city of Ajdabiya.

Hicks left the StarNews about 12 years ago to cover war-torn and disaster-hit sites around the world. In 2002 Hicks was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, along with James Hill, also with The New York Times, for images from the war in Afghanistan. In 2009, he was among Times staff members who won a Pulitzer for covering the U.S.’s challenges in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In a message to the Times staff today, executive editor Bill Keller wrote: "We're overjoyed to report that our four journalists missing in Libya since Tuesday morning are free and have arrived safely in Tunisia."