May 14, 2013 - Updated on January 20, 2016

German freelancer held by Assad regime

Read in Arabic (بالعربية)

Reporters Without Borders condemns German freelance journalist Armin Wertz’s detention by the Syrian authorities since 5 May.

Shortly after his arrest by government forces in the battle-torn city of Aleppo, Wertz sent an SMS to a friend from his mobile phone saying the police were holding him. He asked the friend to notify his family but not make his detention public.

He sent another message yesterday expressly asking for help and reporting that he was about to be transferred along with other detainees to Latakia, a coastal city under government control. The German foreign ministry and Reporters Without Borders were alerted.

Born in 1945, Wertz is nowadays normally based in Indonesia, where he reports for various media including the Berlin daily Tagesspiegel. He had gone to Syria to cover the civil war and, in particular, the situation of refugees, for two Asian newspapers.

A spokesman for the family of James Foley, a US journalist missing since 22 November (LINK), meanwhile reported on 3 May that he is also being held by the Assad regime. German journalist Billy Six spent 12 weeks being held by the Syrian authorities before finally being released on 5 March.

Reporters Without Borders calls for the immediate release of all Syrian and foreign journalists currently detained in Syria. At least 22 professional journalists and 18 citizen-journalists are currently held.