Drama at a Tripoli hotel
We tracked the dramatic overthrow of the Moammar Gadhafi regime on CNN and could see the mounting tension in their senior correspondent Matthew Chance, even as he continued to report bravely on developments. He was being held with other members of the media by army personnel in Tripoli's Hotel Rixos.
Chance hinted at their precarious plight on Saturday, August 20 when he heard the reports of the successful takeover of Tripoli by the rebels, and disclosed that he and his colleagues were not being allowed to leave the hotel. During five tense days, the journalists realised that a number of frightening scenarios could develop: they could be held hostage, used as human shields, summarily executed.
The brilliant Jomana Karadsheh, a Jordanian CNN producer based in Baghdad struck up a conversation with one of the soldiers, saying how she longed to see her loved ones, and wished to leave the hotel. The 50-year-old soldier's eyes filled with tears as he related to her and an Arabic-speaking CNN cameraman, how concerned he was about his own family caught up in the rebellion.She was able to convince him to release her media colleagues.
In a moving account on the CNN website, we see an aggressor being coaxed into the rediscovery of his humanity:
"Karadsheh and the cameraman reminded him that all the senior officials - and now even his young comrades - had abandoned him.
It was time to give up. 'Slowly, he started to change.'
The cameraman slowly stripped the soldier and gunman of their weapons. Now unarmed, the man looked at the journalists and said, "You can go now."