AFP calls on Kadhafi to free captured journalists

22nd March 2011, Comments 0 comments

Agence France-Presse urged Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi in a letter on Tuesday to free Dave Clark and Roberto Schmidt, two AFP journalists arrested near the eastern town of Ajdabiya on Saturday.

"I have the honour to ask you to restore their liberty, in the name of that same freedom of expression and information that you refer to so often," AFP chairman Emmanuel Hoog wrote in the letter.

"My request also concerns Joe Raedle from the Getty Agency, with which our AFP staffers collaborate closely," he said.

Also on Tuesday, Hoog and AFP director of information Philippe Massonnet met French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe and Culture and Communication Minister Frederic Mitterrand, to raise the issue of the journalists' detention.

Driver Mohammed Hamed told AFP that on Saturday morning he took Briton Clark, Schmidt, who is of joint Colombian and German nationality, and American Raedle from Tobruk towards Ajdabiya, and that they were arrested by forces loyal to Kadhafi.

A few dozen kilometres from Ajdabiya, they encountered a convoy of military jeeps and transport vehicles. They turned around, but were intercepted by the soldiers who caught up with them and forcibly arrested them, the driver said.

Four soldiers forced them from their vehicle at gunpoint as Clark said "Sahafa, sahafa," Arabic for journalist.

They were then ordered to kneel on the side of the road with their hands on their heads before being bundled into another vehicle and driven off to an unknown destination.

Paris-based Clark has been in Libya since March 8. Schmidt, 45, who normally works out of the Nairobi bureau, arrived in Libya on February 28.

Raedle is 45 years old.

© 2011 AFP

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