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Video image of James Foley reporting in Libya provided by GlobalPost. Video image of James Foley reporting in Libya provided by GlobalPost.

Kidnapped Journalist Talks Libya Feb. 9

James Foley will recount his ordeal as reporter and captive during the Libyan revolution.
By Glenn S. Robertson

Celebrated journalist James Foley will speak at San Diego State University Thursday, Feb. 9, as part of the Center for Islamic and Arabic Studies’ lecture series, “Understanding the Arab Spring.”

Foley is an American journalist who was held captive in Libya for more than a month during the spring of 2011 after being captured in an ambush by loyalist forces — an attack which took his colleague’s life. After his release last May, he returned to Libya to cover the final days of the Muammar Gadhafi regime and the battle for Sirte.

The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will begin at 7 p.m. in Hepner Hall, room 130.

“James Foley's experience covering the revolution and the war in Libya gives him an insider's perspective on the role that the media played in the events that led to the fall of the Gadhafi regime,” said Farid Abdel-Nour, director of the Center of Islamic and Arabic Studies. “As a practitioner of journalism in the midst of the Arab Spring, he adds a valuable perspective to the series.”

Social media and the Arab Spring

Foley will discuss his experiences in Libya as a journalist and captive, including a discussion on the role of media during the revolution. 

Additionally, he will address how Libyans used social media to spark and fuel the popular revolt, along with the role and ethical issues of international journalists who reported in Libya.

A return to Libya

Foley and three other journalists were covering the Libyan Revolution — in this case, specifically a battle in the oil port of Brega — when they were attacked on the road outside of the town by Gadhafi loyalists. South African photographer Anton Hamerl was killed in the firefight and left behind in the desert after the remaining three were taken captive.

Foley plans on returning to Libya for the first anniversary of the revolution Feb. 17, where he will be involved in the investigation for the remains of his colleague.

Foley earned a graduate degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 2007, and soon afterward went to Iraq as an embedded reporter inside the Indiana National Guard and the 101st Airborne.

He covered the war in Afghanistan for GlobalPost for six months in 2010. His video reports were featured on the “PBS NewsHour” and “CBS Evening News,” and his “On Location: A Firefight in Kunar Province” is a 2011 Webby Award nominee.

More about the lecture series

The “Understanding the Arab Spring” lecture series will feature two additional speakers this semester, including:

  • “The Case of Egypt” with Professor Paul Amar of University of California Santa Barbara; Thursday, February 23, 2012, 7 p.m., location to be determined.
  • “Human Rights Violations” with Sarah Leah Whitson; Tuesday, March 6, 2012, time and location to be determined

For more information about the lecture series, visit the Center for Islamic and Arabic Studies' upcoming events page.