Journalists freed in Tripoli: Inside their 'frightening' ordeal

The harrowing tale of 35 journalists held at gunpoint for five days inside Libya's Rixos Hotel — as related by one of them, a CNN newsman

Two journalists
(Image credit: Screen shot,

The video: Thirty-five journalists who were being held inside Tripoli's "five-star prison," the Rixos Hotel, were freed Wednesday after five days in captivity, ending a dangerous hostage situation. (Watch an interview with one of the journalists below.) As rebel fighters fought their way into the Libyan capital, the journalists were forced by loyalists of Moammar Gadhafi to stay at the "blacked-out" hotel. As food and water dwindled, and with snipers approaching, the journalists — who wore bulletproof vests and helmets stuffed with white flags of surrender — hung banners outside their windows reading "TV" and "Do Not Shoot." Many began weeping after their release. "It's been a very complicated, a very frightening, a very emotional roller coaster," says CNN's Matthew Chance. "It's been an absolute nightmare for all of us."

The reaction: "I worried that the journalists could meet the same dismal fate" as hostages who were trapped in Mumbai's Taj Mahal Hotel in 2008 after it was overrun by Islamic terrorists, says Charlie Smith at So now we're all "heaving a big sigh of relief." Indeed, says Janine di Giovanni at Britain's Guardian. And these reporters were likely "plagued by a growing sense of frustration of claustrophobia" as they longed to be out reporting on the exciting developments in Tripoli. This is uncharted territory for us viewers, too, says Andrew Gilligan at Britain's Telegraph. "We have been able to see inside their prison, hear their words, and look at their strained faces via 24 hour news and Twitter." It's been unnerving and dramatic to watch. See for yourself:

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