US reporter held in Libya phones parents

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A US reporter held in Libya for three weeks made a second phone call home to her parents Tuesday, saying she was being treated well in a civilian prison in Tripoli, her employer said.

"We were glad to hear from our daughter again," Clare Morgana Gillis' mother, Jane, was quoted as saying. Gillis had previously called home for the first time on April 21.

"We urgently appeal to the Libyan government to let her come home immediately," added the reporter's mother, also expressing concern that no diplomat or humanitarian worker had visited her daughter during her detention.

Gillis was detained April 5 near Brega in eastern Libya with another US journalist, James Foley, a freelance reporter with, and Spanish photographer Manu Brabo.

The three journalists were all in the same co-ed military facility for around two weeks, the Atlantic said, but the group has been separated since Gillis was moved to the civilian prison.

A fourth journalist, dual national Austrian-South African photographer Anton Lazarus Hammerl, went missing at the same time, but Gillis first told her parents in a phone call from Libya last week he was not with the trio when they were detained.

The Austrian foreign ministry on Monday, however, announced that Hammerl was alive and well and that it was trying to negotiate his release with Libyan authorities.

The group were apparently detained by the forces of embattled Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi for entering the country illegally and taking photographs without permission, Brabo's father, Manuel Varela, told Spanish radio at the weekend.

Journalists increasingly have risked detention and even live fire while covering the ongoing conflict in Libya.

Two prize-winning photographers, Tim Hetherington of US magazine Vanity Fair and Chris Hondros of the Getty photo agency, were killed by mortar fire last week in the besieged Libyan city of Misrata.

© 2011 AFP

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