Journalist Clare Morgana Gillis, AB’98, detained in Libya

U.S. government officials and human rights groups are working to secure the release of Clare Morgana Gillis, AB’98, one of four journalists detained earlier this month in the Libyan conflict.

Representatives from the University of Chicago have been in contact with Gillis’ family and the office of U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin concerning her detention, according to Scott Sudduth, the University’s associate vice president for federal relations. Durbin’s office has been engaged in bringing attention to the incident from the U.S. State Department and the international community, Sudduth said.

“We hope for the immediate and safe return of Clare Gillis and her fellow journalists currently detained in Libya, and we support efforts underway to assist them,” Sudduth said.

While at UChicago, Gillis majored in English and traveled widely for her studies, her family said. She spent one quarter of her first year in Weimar, Germany, and her third year in Berlin. Her fourth-year project on terminology and representations of women in Old English writings received the College's Napier Wilt Prize in English and American Literature. After graduation she was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to Iceland. More recently she pursued doctoral studies at Harvard, where this spring she received a PhD in medieval history.

Gillis had reported extensively from Libya for USA Today, The Christian Science Monitor and News reports from and other outlets indicate that Gillis and three other journalists were detained on April 5 by Libyan government forces and held in Tripoli.

On April 11, the White House called for the release of the detained journalists, and said the State Department is working to facilitate their return. Other calls for the journalists’ release have come from the news outlets where they work, as well as Human Rights Watch, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and a Facebook page created to bring attention to the incident.