Tyler Hicks and his New York Times colleagues were trying to leave Ajdabiya when their driver stumbled into a checkpoint manned by Gadhafi’s forces—and Hicks immediately knew something was wrong. “I was yelling to the driver, ‘Keep driving! Don’t stop! Don’t stop!’” he tells the Times. “I knew that the consequences of being stopped would be very bad.” As the soldiers pulled the four journalists out of the car, rebels fired at the checkpoint. They took cover, but Anthony Shadid soon heard one of the soldiers order, “Shoot them.” “We all thought it was over,” he says.
But another soldier stopped the shooting, realizing the captives were American. Even so, they weren’t treated well. From the hotel in Tunisia where they were brought after their release yesterday, the four recounted their ordeal: They were tied up, punched, butted with rifles, threatened, made to urinate in bottles; Lynsey Addario was frequently groped. During the first night, she recalls a soldier caressing her head “in this sick way, this tender way, saying: ‘You’re going to die tonight. You’re going to die tonight.’” When they were handed over to Libyan defense officials on Thursday, their treatment improved, but they still faced days of tense negotiations before being released yesterday. In Libya, 13 other journalists remain missing or in government custody, and two have died. Click for reporter Stephen Farrell's ordeal with the Taliban in 2009.