In a joint article on nytimes.com, the four members of staff – Beirut bureau chief Anthony Shadid, photographers Tyler Hicks and Lynsey Addario, and British born reporter and videographer Stephen Farrell – describe the six days they spent in detention, including claims of being blindfolded, taunted, and beaten.
"They bound our hands and legs instead ― with wire, fabric or cable. Lynsey was carried to a Toyota pickup, where she was punched in the face. Steve and Tyler were hit, and Anthony was headbutted.
"Even that Tuesday, a pattern had begun to emerge. The beating was always fiercest in the first few minutes, an aggressiveness that Colonel Qaddafi's bizarre and twisted four decades of rule inculcated in a society that feels disfigured. It didn't matter that we were bound, or that Lynsey was a woman."
In a letter to staff at the Times following the release on Monday, editor Bill Keller said the paper was "indebted" to the Turkish government, which he said played an instrumental part in getting the journalists out of Libya and into Tunisia.
"We're overjoyed to report that our four journalists missing in Libya since Tuesday morning are free and have arrived safely in Tunisia. The Libyan government informed us through various channels Thursday afternoon that Anthony, Tyler, Lynsey and Steve were in Tripoli, in the custody of the Libyan authorities, and would be freed soon.
"The four were allowed to speak to their families by phone Thursday night. Because of the volatile situation in Libya, we've kept our enthusiasm and comments in check until they were out of the country, but now feels like a moment for celebration."
The New York Times journalists' report this week follow similar claims from three members of a BBC Arabic crew earlier this month, describing being detained and beaten while working in Libya.
On Monday the Committee to Protect Journalists reported that 13 other journalists remain either missing or reported as being in custody within Libya, including four from Al Jazeera, two from Agence France-Presse and one from Getty Images.
At least six local journalists who spoke critically of government policies are also missing, CPJ claims.
The press freedom group added that since the revolt in Libya began in February, more than 50 attacks on the press have been documented, including two fatalities, more than 33 detentions and five assaults.
Image by Jason Kuffer on Flickr. Some rights reserved
Free daily newsletter
- Five questions for every newsroom to ask themselves on World Press Freedom Day
- The NYT bets on edgy comedians and vloggers to make its opinion videos go viral
- Solutions journalism: 11 years of lessons from the NYT's Fixes column
- David Bornstein on closing down the New York Times' Fixes column
- Tip: Create slides and cards on social media to increase audience engagement