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Freed from Libya, James Foley to Describe his Ordeal

May 27, 2011 | by Wendy Leopold

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Fifteen days after his release from captivity in Libya, GlobalPost reporter and Medill alumnus James Foley will speak at Northwestern University.

Foley’s remarks -- part of Medill’s popular Crain Lecture Series -- will begin Thursday, June 2, at 4 p.m. in the McCormick Tribune Center Forum, 1870 Campus Drive, on Northwestern’s Evanston campus. Free and open to the public, his speech will be followed by a reception.

On April 5, Foley -- who began reporting from Libya for Global Post in mid-March -- was the object of pro-Gadhafi troop gunfire that killed South African photographer Anton Hammerl. American journalists Clare Gillis and Spanish photographer Manu Brabo also were targets.

“It all happened in a split second,” Foley told the GlobalPost last week. “We thought we were in the crossfire. But, eventually, we realized they were shooting at us. You could see and hear the bullets hitting the ground near us. I thought instinctively that we were all going to get killed, so I jumped up to surrender and screamed that we were journalists.”

After being punched in the face and hit in the head with the butt-end of an AK-47, Foley -- with Gillis and Brabo -- were handcuffed with electrical cords and taken to Tripoli, where they were held captive for more than six weeks.

Foley, Gillis and Brabo, as well as British freelancer Nigel Chandler, were released May 18 after being convicted of entering Libya without a visa, and fined approximately $150. Foley -- who earned a master’s degree from Medill in 2008 -- arrived in the United States last Saturday (May 21) and was reunited with his family.

A fund has been established to help Foley’s family offset the cost of fighting for his release and to provide aid to the family of killed South African photographer Hammerl. For more information, visit www.freefoley.org.

The Gertrude and G.D. Crain Lecture Series regularly brings journalists, newsmakers and others discussing current events and the news business to Northwestern’s Evanston campus. For more on this or other lectures and discussions, call Jessica Gilbert at (847) 467-4130 or visit http://www.medill.northwestern.edu.

Topics: Campus Life