Anton Hammerl in Brega © Unai Aranzadi, 2011.
The Libyan government has released four journalists, which had been detained since 05 April. US freelance journalists Clare Morgana Gillis and James Wright Foley, respectively working for The Atlantic and GlobalPost, and Spanish photographer Manuel Varela de Seijas Brabo are expected to leave Libya in the coming days, alongside British journalist Nigel Chandler.
According to the Associated Press, the four "appeared at the Rixos Hotel [in Tripoli], a day after the Libyan government said it had given them a one-year suspended sentence on charges of illegally entering the country."
However, there is still no news of South African photographer Anton Hammerl, who went missing at the same time. While the Libyan government claimed that it had detained the photojournalist, they have yet to provide any proof of his well-being.
Penny Sukhraj, Hammerl's wife, has welcomed the releases of the four journalists. "We are so pleased for the families of James Foley, Clare Gillis, Manu Brabo and Nigel Chandler that they will be on their way home soon, but we are understandably devastated that there is still a question mark over Anton."
She adds: "The reports from the Libyan authorities regarding Anton over the past 24 hours have been contradictory and we call on the South African and Austrian governments to please do everything they can to confirm Anton's status urgently. Our lives have come to a standstill and we desperately hope that the released journalists will be able to provide some insight into Anton's situation. At this point they seem to be our best hope."
Hammerl's family has set up a Facebook page to raise awareness of Hammerl's disappearance.
Last week, South African photographer and World Press Photo 2011 winner Jodi Bieber appealed to the international photography community to help spread the word on Hammerl's situation. Speaking at the World Press Photo award ceremony, Bieber said: "Anton Hammerl is a South African photographer. He's married, he has two children - he just had a little baby. He has been missing in Libya for 35 days, and I'm pleading with my family, which in the international community, [to act for his release]."
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