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Parents of captive journalist hopeful

Pat Grossmith
May 17. 2011 11:59AM


ROCHESTER - The family of captive journalist James Foley is cautiously optimistic after receiving word that Foley is scheduled to appear before a judge in Libya on Tuesday in what may be a precursor to his release.

A Libyan spokesman told the Associated Press on Monday that Foley and two other journalists will go to a court in Tripoli, likely have to pay some fines and then be released shortly afterward.

The message is the strongest signal so far that Foley and his comrades Clare Gillis, a freelancer who has written for USA Today, and Manu Brabo, a Spanish photographer, may be released.

Still, the situation in Libya remains tense and Foley's family said they're waiting to see how things progress.

'We're trying not to talk about it at this point because everyone involved feels this is a very sensitive time,' said John Foley, James's father. 'I don't really want to allow ourselves to get too excited until it moves to the next level.'

Forces loyal to Col. Moammar Gadhafi took the three journalists prisoner on the outskirts of Brega, an oil town where fighting had raged, on April 5. They have remained in captivity, shuttled from one detention facility to another, ever since.

The Foleys, who live in Rochester, have been excited before by news that their son may be released.

Soon after his capture, James Foley was transferred to a detention center in Tripoli, something many interpreted as a sign he may be released because four journalists from The New York Times were taken there prior to their release.

But Foley's story has played out very differently. The Times journalists were held less than a week, while Foley's captivity has lasted more than 40 days.

Diane Foley, James's mother, said they believed her son would be released a little more than two weeks ago, but a NATO bombing raid on Gadhafi's Tripoli compound reportedly killed several of his family members, including his son, and Foley's status was thrown back into limbo.

With no U.S. embassy in Libya, getting reliable information is difficult and the situation must often be assessed from afar, based on shreds of information.

For now, at least, the signals are getting better.

An intermediary was allowed to visit Foley at a safe house last week and reported that he was healthy and well fed. No one would say who that intermediary was or what country they were from.

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