New York Times Journalists Tell of Abuse During Captivity

"I heard in Arabic, 'Shoot them'...And we all thought it was over"

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Last week, the New York Times said that the paper had lost contact with four of its journalists who had crossed over the Egyptian border into Libya in order to report on the ongoing conflict between pro-Qaddafi and rebel forces. Two days later, Anthony Shadid, the Times Beriut bureau chief, photographers Tyler Hicks and Lynsey Addario, and reporter Stephen Farrell were announced to have been in the custody of Libyan officials. The government then stated that they would be freed shortly.

They were. And now the Times has published a more detailed account of how the journalists were captured, and what happened in captivity. After inadvertently being driven into a Qaddafi checkpoint, the four journalists were rounded up by soldiers and tied up. They thought they were going to be shot on the spot ("I heard in Arabic, 'Shoot them,'" Shadid said. "And we all thought it was over"). But they were recognized as Americans, and then shuttled to several locations before being subject to "three days of frustrating, increasingly tense negotiations" between the State department and the Libyan government to come to terms on their release.

The most immediately striking part of the article is the treatment of photographer Lynsey Addario, shown at left in the photo above, taken on March 11 while reporting with Hicks, in glasses on the right. She recounted being sexually assaulted, groped and stroked on the head while being told "repeatedly she was going to die." This is not the first time an American reporter has been subject to this sort of treatment while covering the Middle East uprisings. There was previously the account of Lara Logan, the CBS reporter who was sexually assaulted and beaten while on assignment covering the Egyptian protests. After the incident became well-publicized, many other female war correspondents shared similar stories in the field.

As of now, the Committee to Protect Journalists reports that 13 journalists are still missing or in government custody in Libya (via Associated Press). Before her capture, Addario spoke remotely with the Daily Beast, describing the perils of her current assignment in Libya:

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.