Obama thanks Turkey for aiding release of NY Times journalists

March 23, 2011, Wednesday/ 17:47:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN WITH WIRES

During a telephone conversation with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan over Libya crisis, US President Barack Obama thanked Turkey for aiding the release of four New York Times journalists who had been detained in Libya during fighting between government and rebel forces.

“The President expressed appreciation for Turkey’s ongoing humanitarian efforts in Libya, including its assistance in facilitating the release and safe passage to Tunisia of four New York Times journalists who had been detained in Libyan custody,” the White House said of the conversation initiated by Obama on Monday.

The New York Times also thanked on Monday the Turkish government for intervening to help secure the release of its journalists.

The newspaper said the four, Anthony Shadid, Stephen Farrell, Tyler Hicks and Lynsey Addario, crossed safely into Tunisia late Monday afternoon.

Times Executive Editor Bill Keller said he was “overjoyed” by the news. “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,”Keller wrote in a note to the newsroom. “We were also assisted throughout the week by diplomats from the United States and United Kingdom.” The daily reported the disappearance of the four last Wednesday. They went missing around the port city of Ajdabiya during fighting between rebels and strongman Muammar Gaddafi’s forces. Last week, Turkey, whose embassy in Tripoli and consulate in Benghazi remain operational, also helped in the release of a journalist from Britain’s The Guardian newspaper who had been arrested this month for illegally entering Libya.

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