Reporters Without Borders is relieved and overjoyed by yesterday’s release of two Spanish journalists – El Mundo’s Middle East correspondent Javier Espinosa and freelance photographer Ricardo García Vilanova – who had been held hostage since September 2013. They are expected to return to Spain today.
“We are delighted by the release of Espinosa and García Vilanova, which follows that of another Spanish journalist, Marc Marginedas, on 2 March, and we hope that all the other professional and amateur journalists who are hostages or in prison in Syria will also be freed soon,” said Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire.
Espinosa and García Vilanova were captured by the jihadi group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) in Syria’s northern province of Raqqah, near the Turkish border, on 16 September 2013 as they were about to leave Syria at the end of a two-week visit covering the conflict.
Their families told the Spanish section of Reporters Without Borders, with which they have been in constant contact since their abduction, that they were “crazy with joy” and “very excited.”
ISIS reportedly continues to hold other Syrian and foreign news providers, including four French journalists: Didier François, Edouard Elias, Nicolas Hénin and Pierre Torrès.
A total of 13 foreign journalists and more than 20 Syrian news providers are still hostages or missing in Syria, while the government is holding around 40 Syrian journalists and citizen-journalists in its jails.