Reporting Monique Griego
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — They worked for months to free him, but a Baltimore journalist says he’s not ready to leave Libya.
WJZ spoke with the loved ones of Matthew VanDyke.
Monique Griego reports VanDyke is now fighting among the revels in Libya after his family, lawmakers and international aid organizations fought to bring him home.
For nearly six months, Matthew VanDyke, 32, was trapped in solitary confinement in a Tripoli prison.
“I would rather have been occasionally beaten than put through the solitary,” said his mother, Sharon VanDyke.
He escaped in August when the prison was overtaken. Now he’s in Sirte, fighting alongside the rebels. A picture shows him dressed in fatigues, standing in front of a machine gun.
“He is fighting with them. He felt that that’s the best way he could be of the best use to them,” VanDyke said.
She said her son is searching for three friends who may be imprisoned in Sirte.
“If they’re not in that prison, they were casualties of war,” she said.
Girlfriend Lauren Fischer admits she’s worried.
“This was his decision and that’s on him,” Fischer said.
At the urging of Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger, the State Department contacted VanDyke numerous times with plans to get him out of Libya but he refused.
“He sort of turned his back on all of that help that we worked so hard to get,” Fischer said.
His family warns no help will come his way.
“I told him once he turned that offer down that he was on his own,” VanDyke said. “That I can’t go back to the government…looking for him.”
They say he’s intent on finding his friends before he comes back to Baltimore.
“If he came home before he finished this, it would haunt him. He’d never be able to put it aside,” she said.
VanDyke and Fischer say they support his decision to stay and his commitment to his friends. He has no previous military experience.
Matthew VanDyke does have a video camera with him. He plans to write a book when he comes back to the United States.