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Vigil To Be Held for Clare Gillis

By Heng Shao, Crimson Staff Writer

Friends and family of Clare M. Gillis, a Harvard graduate and freelance reporter who has been held by the Libyan government for over a month, will gather for a candlelight vigil tonight to demand her immediate release.

The vigil is scheduled to take place from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on the steps of Memorial Church.

On a Facebook page created for the event, 50 people have confirmed attendance as of last night, including the parents of James Foley, another freelance journalist who was detained with Gillis.

Gillis’ parents will be delivering an address at the beginning of the vigil.

Organizers also invited University President Drew G. Faust, faculty members, the media, and senators and congressman who have been advocating for Gillis, according to Jesse C. Howell, a coordinator for the vigil and friend of Gillis’.

Howell said the idea for the vigil was prompted in part by the recent closure of the Turkish Embassy in Libya, which was previously negotiating Gillis and Foley’s release.

Howell also said that personal interactions with Foley’s parents at an event last week made the journalists’ captivity more “real” and “present” and motivated Gillis’ friends to hold the vigil.

“We want to keep Clare on the mind of the media and the public,” Howell said.

“The better we could introduce Clare’s story to people who don’t know her as well as us, the better we could spread the message about her situation in Libya,” Howell said.

“We don’t want [Foley and Gillis’ case] to go by and be forgotten,” said Ece G. Turnator, another organizer of the vigil and a good friend of Gillis’, who expressed concern with the diplomatic situation in Libya.

“Our primary hope is that the U.S. State Department would be successful in securing Clare’s release, but I think ... there is an international interest in Clare as an individual and ... in the freedom of journalists to pursue their work around the world,” Howell said.

“In terms of speculating about the future, we hope that other countries would be able to spread the word about Clare and other people involved as well,” Howell added.

Max Fisher, an associate editor for the international channel of The Atlantic magazine, echoed Howell and Turnator’s call to raise awareness of the situation and to continue to publicly appeal the Libyan government for Gillis and Foley’s release.

He said that The Atlantic has been in communication with NGOs and the State Department and has been coordinating information sharing to make sure that “everyone knows what has been happening and everyone is on the same page.”

—Staff writer Heng Shao can be reached at

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