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Free from Libya prison, US journalist joins fight against Gadhafi

Matthew Van@!$%#, an American writer and filmmaker who was imprisoned in Libya's most notorious jail for over five months earlier this year, has taken up arms and joined the uprising against Moammar Gadhafi.

Ahmad al-Rubaye / AFP - Getty Images

U.S. national Matthew Van@!$%# (right) is seen at the eastern front to the city of Sirte, Libya, on October 2. Van@!$%#, from Baltimore, Maryland, was held in Tripoli's dreaded Abu Salim prison for nearly six months before he escaped in August to join the rebellion against Moammar Gadhafi.

Ahmad al-Rubaye / AFP - Getty Images

U.S. national Matthew Van@!$%# holds a weapon at the eastern front of Sirte on October 2.

Agence France-Presse (AFP) interviewed Van@!$%# on the eastern front outside the city of Sirte, one of the last holdouts of Gadhafi forces, where he was manning a heavy machine gun mounted on an open-top vehicle. He said that, though he had no formal military training, he had gained combat experience battling the fierce resistance put up by Gadhafi's forces in Sirte.

Van@!$%# said Libya had always been very "special" to him and it was the "suffering of Libyans" which brought him to the country. He was jailed in March after being captured by Gadhafi's soldiers, and freed from the Abu Salim prison when rebel forces took Tripoli in late August.

"Sirte will take a couple of weeks. Snipers are too much of a problem," he told AFP.

"I too have had some close calls and returned fire. Those guys are diehard fanatics."

Van@!$%# vowed to see the campaign through to the end, AFP reported. "My family has raised me to keep my commitments. They know I will return after the war is over," he said.



NBC News Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel met Van@!$%# shortly after his release:

NBC's Richard Engel tours Tripoli's Abu Selim prison with American Matthew Van Dyke, a freelance filmmaker who was held in solitary confinement by Gadhafi loyalists for nearly six months.