Four New York Times journalists captured by the Libyan military last week have been freed, the paper reported on Monday.
Namik Tan, the Turkish ambassador to the United States, was the first to report the news in a series of tweets on Monday morning. He wrote that Turkey had negotiated with the Libyan government for the release of the journalists—Anthony Shadid, Lynsey Addario, Tyler Hicks and Stephen Farrell.
"The 4 @nytimes journalists are on their way to leave Libyan border and will be delivered to US officials," Tan wrote at around 7:15 Eastern time on Monday morning.
The Times reporters were captured by Libyan forces last Tuesday. Saif Gaddafi, son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, told ABC News' Christiane Amanpour in an interview last Friday that the journalists had been in the country "illegally," but that they would be released.
UPDATE: New York Times editor Bill Keller wrote a memo to the paper's staff about the release of the four journalists. The text of the memo appears below.
To the Staff:
We're overjoyed to report that our four journalists missing in Libya since Tuesday morning are free and have arrived safely in Tunisia. The Libyan government informed us through various channels Thursday afternoon that Anthony, Tyler, Lynsey and Steve were in Tripoli, in the custody of the Libyan authorities, and would be freed soon. The four were allowed to speak to their families by phone Thursday night. Because of the volatile situation in Libya, we've kept our enthusiasm and comments in check until they were out of the country, but now feels like a moment for celebration. And before long we'll all know the details of their experience.
We're particularly indebted to the Government of Turkey, which intervened on our behalf to oversee the release of our journalists and bring them to Tunisia. We were also assisted throughout the week by diplomats from the United States and United Kingdom.
Arthur spoke on Thursday about The Times as a family, and it certainly felt like one during the many hours of worry and activity focused on our missing journalists. In fact it felt like something of an extended family, as journalists from rival news organizations, governments (our own and others), press freedom groups and other intermediaries rushed to offer their help in locating our people and securing their release. There are too many people to thank, but I will tip my hat to David McCraw, who has become entirely too expert at the business of extricating Times journalists from peril. I also need to thank Chris Chivers, who dropped everything to come in Thursday night and spent the last three days (and nights) dug in with David working on the release.
And, in a week when we have dared to declare that the work we do is worth paying for, this is a reminder that real, boots-on-the-ground journalism is hard and sometimes dangerous work. To the many colleagues who are deployed in hard places - the battleground streets of North Africa and the Middle East, the battered landscape of Japan - we implore you to be careful.