Spindelegger condemns treatment of journalists in Libya
Vienna, 20 May 2011 – On 5 April, the Austro-South African journalist Anton Hammerl and three other international journalists were near the Libyan town of Brega when they were attacked at gunpoint and displaced by soldiers loyal to Gaddafi. Together with other international partners, Austria and South Africa have been calling for the release of the journalists and investigation of the incident ever since. However, according to reports by the three other journalists who have been released recently, there seems to be hardly any hope that the 41-year-old photographer Anton Hammerl could have survived the incident.
“News from Libya is not encouraging. But together with Anton Hammerl’s relatives and our partners we will do everything we can to get to the bottom of this and cut through the uncertainty regarding the fate of the Austro-South African journalist. In this difficult time our thoughts are above all with his family and friends,” said Foreign Minister and Vice-Chancellor Michael Spindelegger today in response to the latest news from Libya.
“This brutal action by Gaddafi’s soldiers is an appalling example of the dangers faced by journalists in conflict situations. Yet it is in these very situations that the freedom of the press is of such vital importance,” emphasised Spindelegger. The Minister also criticised the Gaddafi regime for not disclosing any helpful information, despite repeated enquiries about Anton Hammerl’s fate.
As Spindelegger pointed out, this sad incident shows that much still has to be done in this area. Therfore the protection of journalists will be one of the priorities of Austria’s efforts in the UN Human Rights Council, should Austria be elected to the Council in New York this afternoon.
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