Md. Writer Escapes From Libyan Prison & Decides To Stay

BALTIMORE (WJZ)—A Baltimore man who escaped from a Libyan prison on Monday talked with WJZ by phone on Friday.

Alex DeMetrick reports Matthew VanDyke may be out of his cell, but he’s not ready to leave Libya.

The dangers in Libya are obvious—32-year-old freelance journalist Matthew VanDyke left Baltimore to cover it.

For six months, he could only hear the war while locked in a prison cell.

“I’ve been hearing gunshots every day since I was in prison,” he said. “It was tortuous. I mean solitary confinement is a form of psychological torture. I have obsessive compulsive disorder that raged out of control with nothing but my thoughts, with nothing but staring at a wall for six months without knowing what they were going to do to me.”

VanDyke has traveled in the Mideast before and says he has made friends there. But being held in a Moammar Gadhafi prison was a nightmare.

“It was horrible. I didn’t know if they were going to put me on trial, or if a mob was going to take me outside. I mean those Libyan mobs sometimes stick tires around people and light them on fire while they’re still alive,” VanDyke said.

When rebels entered Tripoli, VanDyke was freed.

“Some of the prisoners were released by guards, and prisoners released me and we all escaped together from the prison,” he said.

And while plenty of danger remains, “I made a commitment to my friends when I came here I would not leave until Libya was free, and I’m going to keep that commitment,” VanDyke said.

VanDyke tells WJZ he is currently staying with one of the prisoners he escaped with this past Monday.

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