Anton Hammerl ‘alive and well’

South African photojournalist Anton Hammerl, who was seized by Libyan militia earlier this month, is apparently alive and will soon be able to speak to his family, a United States media report said on Saturday.

A GlobalPost report said Hammerl — who went missing at the same time as GlobalPost journalist James Foley and two others — was well and would be allowed to speak to his family soon, according to information from Libyan authorities.

GlobalPost said the South African government had received information from the Libyan authorities confirming that Hammerl was in good health.

A United States journalist who had been held for 16 days in Libya made her “first direct contact with outsiders” on Thursday when she phoned her parents from a Tripoli jail.

Clare Morgana Gillis told her parents in a 15-minute phone call that she was in good health and being held in a women’s prison in the Libyan capital, the Atlantic, one of the publications for which she was covering the conflict in the North African country, said on its website.

Gillis told her parents that she had been with Foley and a third journalist, Manu Brabo, a Spanish photographer, in a detention centre in Tripoli until Tuesday, when she was moved to a women’s facility, reported GlobalPost

GIllis said Hammerl had not been with them when they were detained. Hammerl has been missing in Libya since April 5.

Dept not yet granted access
Department of International Relations and Cooperation spokesperson Clayson Monyela said the South African government had not gained consular access to the photographer, but it “continues to work around the clock on the assumption that Anton Hammerl is alive”.

He said that he could not provide further details, but that as soon as access to Hammerl had been granted, the department would inform the public.

He said that SA consular officials in Libya were negotiating with the Libyan authorities and the South African government did not want to jeopardise negotiations by releasing information.

The phone call from Gillis came a day after two prize-winning photographers, Tim Hetherington of US magazine Vanity Fair and Chris Hondros of the Getty photo agency, were killed by mortar fire in the besieged Libyan city of Misrata. – Sapa and Staff reporter

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