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Oklahoma City native among New York Times journalists released by Libya

New York Times reporters were released Monday by Libyan authorities
BY RANDY ELLIS Published: March 22, 2011

After days of negotiations and dashed hopes, Libyan government officials Monday finally delivered on their promise to release Oklahoma City native Anthony Shadid and three fellow New York Times journalists who were captured March 15 while reporting on the Libyan rebellion.

Buddy Shadid, a retired Oklahoma City dentist, said his son called him about 6 a.m. Monday from the Turkish embassy in Libya to say embassy diplomats were arranging for his safe passage out of the country.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist's father said he received an email from The New York Times later in the day stating the journalists had made it safely to Tunisia.

“I'm glad it's over,” he said. “It has been nerve-racking and I'm exhausted. ... They tried to get out yesterday, but because of the bombing and anti-aircraft fire, they couldn't make it.”

Buddy Shadid said he expects his son to fly back to Beirut, where he is The New York Times bureau chief, but also expects him to come to Oklahoma soon for a visit.

After days of worrying about his son's safety, it was good to finally hear his voice Monday, he said.

“He sounded tired,” said Buddy Shadid, 79. “He sounded like he was OK, but just exhausted.

He said his son indicated it was a “harrowing experience and he was anxious to get home.”

“He wasn't at liberty to discuss much more than that until he had briefed The New York Times,” Buddy Shadid said.

Quoting British sources, Fox News reported Monday that Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi had used journalists from CNN, Reuters and other news organizations as human shields Sunday, inviting them to Gadhafi's compound to view damage from an earlier attack in hopes their presence would deter further attacks.

British aircraft were prepared to launch seven Storm Shadow missiles at the compound Sunday, but called off the strikes because of the journalists' presence in the area, Fox News reported.

The compound was targeted because of its air defense systems and its military command and control center, not because of any effort to kill Gadhafi, coalition commanders said at a briefing.

Little information

Buddy Shadid said he was unsure of the location in Tripoli where his son and the other New York Times journalists were kept, so he didn't know whether they were part of any human shield.

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