NU to hold rally for Foley’s release

Sean Lavery

Northwestern will hold a rally Wednesday in support of the release of journalist James Foley (MSJ ’08) from a Libyan prison. Supporters are asked to gather at 1:30 p.m. in front of Crowe Hall, located at 1860 Campus Drive.

Foley was detained with at least two other journalists outside the city of Brega by pro-Gadhafi nearly 22 days ago while covering the Libyan conflict. He was allowed to call home for the first time Saturday, his father, John Foley said. John said he was able to speak with his son for about five minutes.

“We’re obviously anxious,” he said. “The more days that go by, the more anxious we get, because the situation in Libya is not exactly stable.”

James was able to relay some information about his living conditions to his parents in the short phone call. He has been given adequate food and water, as well as his own bed, John Foley said. However, the cells are small and he is not allowed time outside his confinement, meaning he does not get to move around much.

John said his son would not be allowed to have any more phone calls before his release. Overall, John said, he seemed strong and was even concerned that he had put his parents through too much worry.

“He said he felt that the Libyan people are very nice people in general,” John said.

Ellen Shearer, Medill professor and director of Medill Washington, told the Northwestern NewsCenter the number of journalists detained in Libya was of “enormous concern.”

“Many, like Jim, are freelance reporters who don’t have the benefit of large media organizations to keep the pressure on, although GlobalPost has certainly been strongly pushing for Jim’s release,” Shearer said. “But the more public attention that can be brought to Jim’s detention, the better.”

As of press time, an online petition sponsored by James Foley’s friends and family, which advocates for the release of James Foley and his colleagues, has garnered over 29,000 signatures. U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen(D-N.H.) said she has been working closely with the state department to aid in the release of the Rochester, N.H., native.

“I am deeply concerned about the well-being of James Foley and the current conditions of his detainment. This is an urgent priority and we are working to assist in helping to secure his safe and immediate release,” Shaheen said in a statement. “My office has been coordinating closely with the U.S. State Department on this issue since we first learned of the capture, and I am confident that the Department is doing everything it can to secure his release.”

John Foley said he has been to the rallies and vigils near his home, and said the thoughts and prayers at each event have helped both his son and his family tremendously.

“One of the things he said in the phone call, sort of spontaneously, was that he could feel us all praying for him,” he said. “What I want people to know is that prayers are very worthwhile.”

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