Clare Morgana Gillis, a freelance journalist being detained in Libya by forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi, made contact with her family for the first time on Thursday, 16 days after she was captured.
Gillis, a Connecticut native, was covering the battle between rebels and Gadhafi loyalists outside of Brega on April 5, when, according to eyewitnesses, the vehicle she was traveling in was stopped by pro-government forces. Gillis, who had been reporting for The Atlantic and USA Today, was then detained along with the two reporters she was traveling with: James Foley, a New Hampshire native working for the Boston-based news site GlobalPost, and Manu Brabo, a Spanish photographer.
In a brief 15-minute conversation, Gillis told her parents that she was in good spirits in a women's prison in the Libyan capital of Tripoli. She said she had been in a co-ed detention center with Foley and Brabo in Tripoli up until Tuesday, when she was transferred to a women's prison, according to GlobalPost.
"It was hard to believe that is was really her at first," her mother, Jane Gillis, told Radio Boston. "She said that her major concern was the worry that she had caused us."
Gillis reached her parents while they were in Washington, D.C., working to win her release. Among the lawmakers they have spoken with have been independent Sen. Joe Lieberman and Democratic Rep. Rosa DeLauro, both of Connecticut.
The United States does not maintain diplomatic ties with Libya, so the State Department has asked Turkey to serve as a mediator. However, while speaking to reporters in Washington Thursday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on Libya to release all “unjustly detained’’ Americans in Libya.
"We would like very much for this to be just a hopeful first step, this telephone call we had yesterday," said her father, Robert Gillis, adding that at the very least, he and his wife would like officials from either the Red Cross or the Turkish government to have access to all three captured reporters.
“Unfortunately we still — despite tremendous efforts — do not have a release date for them,” GlobalPost president Philip Balboni told Radio Boston on Monday. “We’re hoping that that will be soon. It seems likely that it will be soon, but we don’t know.”
- Jane and Robert Gillis, parents of Clare Morgana Gillis
This segment aired on April 22, 2011.