Four New York Times (NYT) journalists who have been missing in Libya since being captured on Tuesday by forces loyal to Muammar al-Qaddafi will be released on Friday, the leader’s son, Seif Islam al-Qaddafi, said in an interview with ABC News.

The reporters had crossed the border into Libya from Egypt without visas to cover the violent protests calling for the ouster of al-Qaddafi, a method often used by Western journalists.

Seif al-Qaddafi said in the interview that government forces found the journalists in the city of Ajdabiya after the military liberated the city from the rebels.

“They were happy because they found out she is American, not European,” he told ABC News, reportedly referring to Lynsey Addario, one of the four missing. “And thanks to that, she will be free tomorrow.”

Libyan government officials told the U.S. State Department on Thursday that all four would be released.

In addition to Addario, a photographer who has worked extensively in the Middle East and Africa, the others captured are Beirut bureau chief Anthony Shadid, who is two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for foreign reporting, as well as reporter and videographer Stephen Farrell and photographer Tyler Hicks.

Farrell was kidnapped by the Taliban in 2009 and was rescued by British commandos.

The Middle East has become a dangerous place for foreign journalists, particularly in countries such as Libya and Egypt where there has been a recent surge of uprisings against the governments in those nations.

In Egypt last month reporters covering the revolt that overthrew its former dictator Hosni Mubarak were assaulted, accosted and detained, including two Times reporters who were detained and eventually released unharmed.

CBS News chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan was sexually assaulted and severely beaten while covering the jubilation following Mubarak’s resignation in Tahrir Square before being rescued by a group of women and Egyptian soldiers.

Follow Jennifer Booton on Twitter at @Jbooton