Four reporters captured as Kadhafi expels 26 more

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An American reporter for The Atlantic and three other journalists have been captured in Libya by forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Kadhafi, The Atlantic said Thursday.

Clare Morgana Gillis, who has reported extensively for from Libya, James Foley, an American freelance contributor to, Manu Brabo, a Spanish photographer, and Anton Hammerl, a South African photographer, were taken into custody on Tuesday near Brega, The Atlantic said.

In a story on its website, The Atlantic said Libyan rebels saw troops take the four journalists into custody, release the driver, and destroy their car with an RPG.

The Atlantic said the current location of the four journalists is not known and it is working with Human Rights Watch, Global Post, and Libyan government officials to find out where they are.

"Clare Morgana Gillis was reporting on the situation in Libya on behalf of The Atlantic and other American publications," Atlantic editor James Bennet said. "We appeal to the Libyan authorities for her immediate and safe release, and for that of the three other journalists detained with her."

State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the US government was trying to obtain more information, including through Turkey, which now represents US interests in Tripoli after the US embassy closed there.

"Since we don't have a diplomatic presence there, we're trying to work through a variety of contacts to try and obtain information on them and to provide any possible assistance," Toner said.

News of the capture of the four came as the Kadhafi regime expelled 26 foreign reporters from Tripoli.

Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said it was "outraged" by the deportation of 26 foreign journalists by the Libyan government on the grounds that their visas had expired.

RSF said it had been told that around 100 other foreign journalists were still in the Libyan capital.

RSF meanwhile reiterated its concern about Rana Akbani, a woman reporter of Syrian nationality who it said has been missing in eastern Libya since March 28.

Libya has been making world headlines since February as an anti-Kadhafi revolt developed into a conflict pitting poorly-armed rebels against government forces and drawing in a NATO-led coalition with a mandate to protect civilians.

The north African state is now split between pro-Kadhafi forces controlling the capital Tripoli and most of the west and rebels controlling eastern parts, with their base in the town of Benghazi.

RSF noted that Thursday's expulsions followed a series of deportations in recent weeks, including those of The Daily Telegraph's Damien McElroy on April 3 and Reuters correspondent Michael Georgy on March 30.

RSF has previously condemned the detention of Lofti Ghars, a journalist with Canadian and Tunisian dual citizenship who works for Al-Alam TV. He was arrested by pro-Kadhafi forces on March 16.

Three Al-Jazeera journalists who were arrested in early March -- Mauritian reporter Ahmed Vall Ould el-Dine, Norwegian photographer Ammar Al-Hamdane and British photographer Kamel Ataloua -- were still being held by Kadhafi forces, it added.

Two Agence France-Presse journalists and a Getty photographer were detained for four days last month by pro-Kadhafi forces, while four New York Times journalists were also held for several days.

© 2011 AFP

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