New York Times Female Photographer Sexually Assaulted by Pro-Gaddafi Forces in Libya
March 23, 2011 /Photography News/ Four New York Times journalists freed by the Libyan government, including Pulizer Prize-winning photographer Lynsey Addario, endured physical abuse during their time in their captors’ hands.
Addario, 37, revealed just hours after her release how she was repeatedly sexually assaulted during the Libyan hostage ordeal.
After she was hauled out of a car at a checkpoint near the city of Ajdabiya, one of the Libyans punched her in the face and laughed. “Then I started crying and he was laughing more,” she told the New York Times.
One man grabbed her breasts - the start of a pattern of sexual harassment she endured over the ensuing 48 hours. “There was a lot of groping,” she said. “Every man who came in contact with us basically felt every inch of my body short of what was under my clothes.”
As she was being driven away from Ajdabiya, she said another of her captors stroked her head and told her repeatedly that she was going to be killed.
“He was caressing my head in this sick way, this tender way, saying: ‘You’re going to die tonight. You’re going to die tonight’,” she added.
After two days of moving around, they finally boarded a plane that took them to the capital of Tripoli, where they were handed over to Libyan defense officials, The Times said. They were transferred to a safe house, where they said they were treated well. They were each allowed a brief phone call.
But their arrival in Tripoli was just the beginning of three days of frustrating, increasingly tense negotiations conducted by a State Department consular officer, The Times said. During this time, the allied coalition, including the United States, began bombing Tripoli to enforce a no-fly zone.
The release was scheduled for Sunday but was delayed until Monday because of the bombing, the newspaper said. The four were turned over to Turkish diplomats Monday afternoon, and were driven to the border with Tunisia.
The other three journalists released on Monday are Anthony Shadid, The Times’ Beirut bureau chief, who has won two Pulitzer Prizes for international reporting; photographer Tyler Hicks, who have extensive experience in war zones; and a reporter and videographer, Stephen Farrell, who in 2009 was captured by the Taliban in Afghanistan and was rescued by British commandos.
The sexual abuse Addario suffered highlights the additional risks women face while covering the recent events in North Africa and the Middle East.
CBS foreign correspondent Lara Logan was sexually abused in February by an Egyptian crowd during the celebration in Cairo's Tarir Square during the celebration of President Hosni Mubarak's decision to step down.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 13 journalists are either missing or in Libyan government custody. The missing include four from Al Jazeera, two from Agence France-Presse and one from Getty Images.