A Libyan government spokesman says four journalists detained since early April have completed an administrative hearing and will be released on Tuesday or Wednesday. Photo: Reuters
A Libyan government spokesman says four journalists detained since early April have completed an administrative hearing and will be released on Tuesday or Wednesday. Photo: Reuters

Sanef asks Zuma to help find lensman

By Time of article published Apr 13, 2011

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The SA National Editors' Forum (Sanef) on Thursday called on President Jacob Zuma to make a personal request to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to release SA photographer Anton Hammerl.

“Sanef urges President Zuma to reinforce Sanef's call on Gaddafi by making a personal request to Gaddafi for Hammerl's release and the other journalists,” it said in a statement.

The forum said it was perturbed by reports Zuma failed to raise Hammerl's detention with the Libyan leader when he headed an African Union delegation this week. Zuma was in Libya on Sunday where he met with Gaddafi in a bid to broker a cease-fire.

The Times on Monday quoted presidential spokesman Zizi Kodwa as saying Hammerl's release “could not have been discussed” as Zuma was in the country to present the AU's “road map”, and to facilitate dialogue between Gaddafi and his opposition.

This had the angered the Hammerl family who told Sapa on Tuesday that they felt let down.

Sanef said it was pleased by other efforts.

“We are... encouraged by news that the department of international co-operation (Dirco) has sought the help of the United States, among others, to help track the whereabouts of Hammerl.”

Late on Wednesday Dirco spokesman Clayson Monyela, speaking from China, said Zuma was aware of the photographer's plight. Zuma is in China for the Third Brics Summit.

Monyela said South African embassy staff had returned to the Libyan capital Tripoli and requested consular access to Hammerl. Asked if the South African government had any confirmation about Hammerl's whereabouts from the Libyan government, he said he could not comment.

“We don't want to put too much in the public domain. We don't want to jeopardise this process (of consular access).”

He said the department was in regular contact with the family and keeping them updated.

Hammerl, a freelance photographer who used to work for The Star newspaper, was one of four journalists who went missing on April 4

in eastern Libya.

The other three, reportedly seized by militia loyal to Gaddafi, are Clare Morgana Gillis of the TheAtlantic.com; James Foley, a freelance reporter with GlobalPost.com and Spanish photographer Manu Brabo.

Sanef said this capture should have been prevented by government forces as they were carrying out legitimate reporting duties, as approved by the United Nations, which Libya was a member of. -

Sapa

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