Reporter in Libya allowed to call home

Says two others in good health; journalists held by Khadafy forces

By Neal Riley
Globe Correspondent / April 22, 2011

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A Connecticut journalist detained by forces loyal to the Libyan government more than two weeks ago was allowed to call home yesterday for the first time since her capture, and she told her parents she is doing well, her mother said.

Clare Morgana Gillis, who had been reporting on the Libyan conflict for The Atlantic and USA Today, told her parents that two other detained journalists, James Foley of Boston-based news organization GlobalPost and Spanish photographer Manu Brabo were also in good health before she was separated from them on Tuesday and taken to a civilian women’s prison.

“Everyone has been very nice to her,’’ Jane Gillis of New Haven said Clare, 34, told her in a 15-minute phone call. “Her big worry was that she was causing us worry.’’

The three journalists were captured April 5 on the outskirts of the city of Brega, according to GlobalPost. A fourth journalist, photographer Anton Hammerl of Austrian and South African citizenship, has not been seen by them since they were moved after their capture to a detention center in Tripoli, Gillis told her parents.

John Foley of Rochester, N.H., said in a phone interview last night that he has not yet heard from his son, but was encouraged to hear from the Gillis family that Clare reported James was OK the last time she saw him.

“I would think this is a positive step forward,’’ he said. “I would hope Jimmy would be allowed a similar sort of thing soon.’’

Foley said he has been in contact with police, Senator John F. Kerry and other members of Congress, and GlobalPost in trying to bring his son home safely.

“We are very relieved that Clare made contact with her family and that through her, we hear James is in good condition,’’ GlobalPost executive editor Charles M. Sennott said last night. “Now we’re hoping he will be able to reach his family, which is obviously very concerned about his situation.’’

Clare Gillis said she has not yet been in contact with the Turkish Embassy or any other officials who have been working to get the journalists released, according to her mother.

“She had no idea that so many people knew about her detention and want to get her free,’’ Jane Gillis said.

During a press conference in Washington, D.C., yesterday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called on the Libyan government to secure the release of all “unjustly detained’’ Americans in Libya, including at least two journalists.

“I say ‘at least’ because we do not have any accurate information coming from Libyan authorities about other inquiries that we have made regarding their continuing harassment and detention of journalists, including Americans,’’ Clinton said.

Gillis said her daughter told her she does not know when she will be released.

“I just can’t stress how much we want her back,’’ Jane Gillis said.

The wait also continues to be painful for John Foley and his wife Diane, who say they are very hopeful that they will get good news soon.

“We wish we knew more,’’ John Foley said. “We’re still in the dark. He is an innocent reporter who was trying to bring a conflict story home to us in the United States. He didn’t do anything to harm the Libyan government or its people.’’

Material from Globe wire services was used in this report. Neal Riley can be reached at