Three American journalists whose tales of capture in Libya and Syria made national news were released from custody Wednesday.
James Foley and Clare Gillis, correspondents for GlobalPost and the Atlantic, respectively, were dispatched to a Tripoli hotel, along with Spanish photographer Manu Brabo and British photographer Nigel Chandler. Al-Jazeera journalist Dorothy Parvaz, deported to her native country of Iran from Syria last week, was released and called loved ones as she was clearing customs in Doha.
But even as news organizations celebrate the return of those released, other foreign journalists are still missing as families and friends wait for often unreliable updates.
Crossed wires and the lack of official sources are leading to dashed hopes. South African journalist Anton Hammerl, for instance, was long thought to be part of the group that would eventually be freed with Foley and Gillis in Libya Wednesday. Those reports proved false; Hammerl is still missing, and his government is now calling for his safe return.
The list of foreign journalists missing in the embattled country doesn’t stop there: Matthew VanDyke, an American freelancer, has been missing since March 12; British journalist Kamel Ataloua, since early March; Lofti Ghars, a Tunisian-Canadian journalist, since March 16 and six Libyan journalists are missing or have been detained since conflicts started.
In Iran, where Parvaz was freed Wednesday, 34 journalists are still in custody, according to the Committee to Protect journalists.
But reporters and photographers are not the only people who go missing. Locals who arrange transportation and provide other services such as translation — they’re called “fixers” — run a risk while under the employ of foreign journalists.
Mohamed Shaglouf, the driver working for four New York Times journalists when they were detained in Libya in March, was a faceless fifth captive whose fate has never been determined. An in-depth accounting of fixers missing or killed while working for journalists is here, but suffice it to say that the plights of fixers are decidedly less covered by foreign media than the capture of journalists. There are no 16,000-people-strong Facebook groups or Twitter accounts calling for their safe return.
Below, Parvaz talks about her time in custody: