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Tyler Hicks And Lynsey Addario Are Safe In Tunisia

New York Times photographers — and Staples graduates — Tyler Hicks and Lynsey Addario are finally safe.

The pair — along with Times reporters Anthony Shadid (Beirut bureau chief) and Stephen Farrell — were released by the Libyan government earlier today.  They had spent 6 days in captivity, while covering the conflict in Ajdabiya.

Government forces released the quartet into the custody of Turkish diplomats.  They entered Tunisia in the late afternoon, Libya time.

Times executive editor Bill Keller described himself as “overjoyed” at the journalists’ release.

“Because of the volatile situation in Libya, we’ve kept our enthusiasm and comments in check until they were out of the country, but now feels like a moment for celebration,” he told his staff.

“We’re particularly indebted to the government of Turkey, which intervened on our behalf to oversee the release of our journalists and bring them to Tunisia.  We were also assisted throughout the week by diplomats from the United States and United Kingdom.”

The Times said on its website:

On Tuesday, the journalists were leaving the front lines of the clashes between pro-Qaddafi forces and rebels in and around Ajdabiya.  As they attempted to drive east toward the relative safety of the rebel capital of Benghazi, they approched a new checkpoint.

It belonged to a group of Qaddafi fighters who detained them.  The Qaddafi forces then suddenly came under fire from reebls, and a gunfight ensued.

When the fight let up, the journalists’ captors drove them along a coastal road until they reached the Qaddafi stronghold of Surt.  From there, they were flown in a military aircraft to Tripoli.

On Thursday afternoon the Libyan government informed The Times through various channels that the journalists were in the custody of Libyan authorities and would be freed soon. They were allowed a phone call to their families that night.

They were turned over to Turkish diplomats Monday afternoon, and began the long drive to the border with Tunisia.

The Addario and Hicks families — both well-known throughout Westport — have kept a low profile throughout the ordeal.  They have had to keep phone lines open, and at the request of Times and State Department officials, kept public statements to a minimum.

They’ve been buoyed by the support of many Westporters, however.  Finally, all can breathe easily.

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