Four New York Times journalists have disappeared while reporting on the ongoing conflict in Libya, the White House confirmed Wednesday.
The paper reported on its website that the journalists were last in contact with the paper on Tuesday morning, New York time. The paper said it had received second-hand reports that members of its reporting team on the ground in the port city of Ajdabiya had been swept up by Libyan government forces, but were unable to confirm the reports
“We strongly urge governments in the entire region, and in this case those in Libya, to protect journalists, allow them to do their work, do not harass, or not in anyway detain or use violence against journalists,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said on Wednesday.
The missing journalists are Anthony Shadid, the newspaper's Beirut bureau chief; Stephen Farrell, a reporter and videographer; and photographers Tyler Hicks and Lynsey Addario.
New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller said that family and colleagues of the four journalists are anxiously seeking more information about the journalists' whereabouts.
“We have talked with officials of the Libyan government in Tripoli, and they tell us they are attempting to ascertain the whereabouts of our journalists,” Keller told the The Times. “We are grateful to the Libyan government for their assurance that if our journalists were captured they would be released promptly and unharmed.”
One of the journalists, Farrell, was captured in 2009 while reporting in northern Afghanistan. He was rescued by British commandoes three days after his kidnapping, but his Afghan translator Sultan Munadi was killed by gunfire as the British-led troops raided the compound where they were being held.
Farrell was also kidnapped in 2004 by insurgents in Iraq, while he was reporting in the restive city of Fallujah for The Times of London.
Shadid, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner for his coverage of the Iraq War, was wounded in the West Bank in 2002 while he was on assignment there for The Boston Globe.