'Restrepo' filmmaker Tim Hetherington killed photographing war in Libya

Tim Hetherington, the photojournalist and codirector of 'Restrepo,' the documentary film about war in Afghanistan, was killed in Libya Wednesday. Three other journalists were wounded.

Tim Hetherington/Outpost Films/AP
Directors Sebastian Junger, left, and Tim Hetherington at the Restrepo outpost in the Korengal Valley, Afghanistan, during the 2007 filming of their documentary, 'Restrepo.' Hetherington was killed in Libya Wednesday, April 20.

Tim Hetherington, the photojournalist and codirector of “Restrepo,” the Oscar-nominated documentary film about the war in Afghanistan, was killed in Libya Wednesday.

Three other journalists were wounded – two of them severely – in what reportedly was an attack by a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) or mortar round.

Mr. Hetherington’s last message on Twitter, posted Tuesday, read: "In besieged Libyan city of Misurata. indiscriminate shelling by Qaddafi forces. No sign of NATO."

The attack, which occurred as journalists were traveling with rebel forces in Libya, comes at a time when journalism has become an increasingly dangerous job around the world.

Since 1992, 895 journalists have been killed, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), including 14 so far in 2011. Some of these have been in combat situations; others occurred in countries with repressive regimes or – as in the case of Mexico – as a result of drug cartel violence.

These are the 10 “deadliest countries” for journalists, according to the CPJ. Countries and number of journalists killed since 1992: Iraq (149), Philippines (71), Algeria (60), Russia (52), Colombia (43), Pakistan (35), Somalia (34), India (27), Mexico (25), and Afghanistan (22).

The United States has been involved in at least one controversial incident that took the lives of journalists. The WikiLeaks controversy began with the release of graphic gun-camera video showing US Apache attack helicopters killing about a dozen people, including two Reuters news agency employees in Baghdad in 2007. According to an internal US military investigation, the US Army helicopter pilots acted in accordance with both the laws of war and the Army’s rules of engagement with the enemy.

Born in Great Britain, Mr. Hetherington carried dual British-US citizenship. After his studies at Oxford University, he spent much of his professional time in West Africa, including during the civil war in Liberia.

His work garnered numerous awards, including three World Press prizes. He won the World Press Photo of the Year Award for his coverage of American soldiers in the Korengal Valley of Afghanistan in 2007, the same year he and Sebastian Junger were making the documentary “Restrepo.” The film, which chronicles a harrowing year in the life of a US Army platoon, won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for an Academy Award for best documentary.

News reports identified the wounded as photographers Chris Hondros, an American working for Getty Images; Guy Martin, a Briton working for the Panos photo agency; and Michael Brown, who was working for Corvis.

"We're shocked and saddened by word that our colleague Tim Hetherington has died, and we extend our deepest condolences to his family and colleagues," said Robert Mahoney, CPJ deputy director. "The Libyan conflict is proving to be an extremely dangerous story for journalists to cover."

Two other journalists have been killed this year in the Libyan conflict, according to the CPJ.

“CPJ has documented more than 80 attacks on the press since political unrest erupted in Libya in February,” the journalists’ organization reports. “They include the fatalities, numerous injuries, 49 detentions, 11 assaults, two attacks on news facilities, the jamming of two international television transmissions, at least four instances of obstruction, the expulsion of two international journalists, and the interruption of Internet service. At least six local journalists are missing amid speculation they are in the custody of security forces. One international journalist and two media support workers are also unaccounted for.”

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