Journalist escapes Libyan prison after months in captivity

New York, August 24, 2011–The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the news that U.S. journalist Matthew VanDyke escaped with several inmates from Abu Salim prison in Tripoli today. VanDyke’s mother told CPJ that he called her with the news of his escape and that he is safe and in good spirits. He also told his mother that he had been kept in solitary confinement for much of his imprisonment. It was not clear whether the prison was now controlled by rebels.

“We are relieved that Matthew VanDyke’s five-month ordeal is over,” said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney. “We hope that all journalists detained since the current uprising began are released immediately.”

VanDyke had been missing in Libya since March 13 and was believed to have been captured in mid-March by forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, his mother told CPJ. On August 10, the Libyan government finally admitted to having him in custody but would not provide any information on his whereabouts.