Detained Journalist Calls Home Again

Three weeks after being captured in Libya, freelance journalist and Harvard graduate Clare M. Gillis was allowed to make a second phone call home Tuesday morning.

“She sounded good and is eager to be released. Perhaps in a couple of days,” Jane Gillis, Clare’s mother, wrote on the Facebook page “Friends for the Release of Clare Gillis.”

She also said that her daughter has been given chocolate, perfume, cigarettes, and English books, including “Animal Farm” and “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”

According to The Atlantic, diplomats and humanitarian workers have not been allowed to visit Gillis in jail, though her mother said in an interview last week that the Turkish ambassador to Libya has been trying to secure a visit to journalists held by Libyan authorities.

Gillis, who was working as a freelance reporter in Libya, was captured outside the city of Brega on April 5 by forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi. She was kept at a government detention center in Tripoli until last Tuesday, when she was moved to a women’s facility and has remained there since.


She first made contact with her family last Thursday, telling her parents that she has been treated well by Libyan authorities and that she has interacted with the other women at the facility.

It was previously believed that three other journalists travelling with Gillis were also detained. They include James W. Foley, an American freelance contributor to, Manuel A. Bravo, a Spanish photographer, and Anton Hammerl, a photographer who has dual citizenship in South Africa and Austria.

But according to the Associated Press, Hammerl was not detained with the other three and is likely being held in another jail or on a military base.

Foley and Bravo were allowed to call home last Saturday and said that they are in good shape. GlobalPost reported last week that the Libyan authorities have informed the South African government that Hammerl is alive and well and will be allowed to contact his family soon.

—Staff writer Heng Shao can be reached at