An American writer missing in Libya for months returned to the United States yesterday telling reporters he went to participate in the uprising against dictator Muammar Gaddafi and was on a reconnaissance mission when he was captured.
But Matthew VanDyke, 32, said his mother and girlfriend did not know when he set off from Baltimore for Libya that his goal was to support the revolution.
“When I got out of prison, I was going to finish what I came to do. So the past several weeks I’ve been in combat on the front lines in Sirte fighting Gaddafi’s forces.”
VanDyke said he was in Brega with three other fighters when he was captured by Gaddafi forces. He spent more than five months in solitary confinement in Libyan prisons.
Sharon VanDyke travelled to Turkey with photos of her son in the hope of speaking to Libyan diplomats about his case.
When the Abu Salim Prison in Tripoli was bombed in August, fellow prisoners broke open VanDyke’s cell and he escaped.
The prisoners made their way to a compound where VanDyke was able to call home. His girlfriend Lauren Fischer, the State Department and Human Rights Watch pressed him to return home, but he wanted to finish what he went to Libya to do.
VanDyke joined the Ali Hassan al-Jaber Brigade of the National Liberation Army He went to Tripoli after Gaddafi was killed and soon felt he could return home.