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Libya Says It Will Release NYTimes Journalists

TRIPOLI, Libya — Four New York Times journalists missing in Libya since Tuesday were captured by forces loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi and will be released Friday, his son, Seif Islam el-Qaddafi, told Christiane Amanpour in an ABC News interview.

Like many Western journalists, the four had entered the rebel-controlled eastern region of Libya without visas over the Egyptian border to cover the insurrection against Colonel Qaddafi.

“They entered the country illegally and when the army, when they liberated the city of Ajdabiya from the terrorists and they found her, they arrest her because you know, foreigners in this place,” Seif Qaddafi said, according to the transcript of the interview. “But then they were happy because they found out she is American, not European. And thanks to that, she will be free tomorrow.” Mr. Qaddafi was apparently referring to Lynsey Addario, an experienced war photographer, but Libyan government officials told the United States State Department on Thursday evening that all four would be released.

The journalists are Anthony Shadid, The Times’s Beirut bureau chief and a two-time Pulitzer-prize winning foreign correspondent; two photographers, Tyler Hicks and Ms. Addario, 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.

After The New York Times reported having lost contact with the journalists on Tuesday officials with the Qaddafi government pledged that if they had been detained by the government’s military forces they would be located and released unharmed.