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Libyan forces say they will free four New York Times journalists

Captured New York Times journalists, from left, photographer Lynsey Addario, reporter Stephen Farrell, photographer Tyler Hicks, and Beirut bureau chief Anthony Shadid. Captured New York Times journalists, from left, photographer Lynsey Addario, reporter Stephen Farrell, photographer Tyler Hicks, and Beirut bureau chief Anthony Shadid. (New York Times And Associated Press)
By Chris Hawley
Associated Press / March 19, 2011

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NEW YORK — Forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Khadafy have said they will release four New York Times journalists captured during fighting in the eastern part of the country, the newspaper said yesterday.

The four planned to drive to the Egyptian border and fly out of Egypt, said Buddy Shadid, the father of Times reporter Anthony Shadid.

“They were wanting to keep it quiet yesterday because of the delicate negotiations,’’ Buddy Shadid said. “Apparently the United Nations and Turkey and some other nations all put pressure on the Libyan government to release them.’’

Buddy Shadid said he had spoken to his daughter-in-law, Nada Bakri, who said the four journalists were treated well and had plenty of food and water.

The journalists are Shadid; photographers Tyler Hicks and Lynsey Addario; and a reporter and videographer, Stephen Farrell. In 2009, Farrell was captured by the Taliban in Afghanistan and was rescued by British commandos.

Shadid, a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for international reporting, is a former Middle East correspondent for the Boston Globe; Hicks, named the photographer of the year by Pictures of the Year International in 2007, is a graduate of Boston University.

Khadafy’s son, Seif, told ABC reporter Christiane Amanpour that the journalists were in Libyan custody, and Libyan government officials told the US State Department on Thursday that all four would be released, the Times said in an article on its website. A Times spokeswoman declined to comment.

The four had last been in contact with editors Tuesday from Ajdabiya, where they were covering the retreat of rebels.

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