December 9, 2016

RSF decries Islamic State’s use of British journalist John Cantlie

© Mustafa Karali
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns Islamic State’s continuing exploitation of one of its hostages, British journalist John Cantlie, who looks extremely thin in a new video shot in the IS-controlled city of Mosul in northern Iraq that was posted on the jihadi group’s online TV channel Amaq yesterday.

The twelfth Islamic State propaganda video to use John Cantlie, it shows him on the streets of Mosul for eight minutes, commenting on the destruction of the city’s bridges and interviewing residents.

He looks pale and emaciated in the footage, indicating that he has suffered a dramatic physical change since his last appearance in an IS video in July.

“We roundly condemn this obscene use of British journalist John Cantlie in videos,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “Islamic State has been using him for propaganda purposes in Syria and Iraq for the past two years. His detention and exploitation amount to unspeakable acts of torture. We urge the British government to do everything possible to obtain his release and get him home safely.”

This is the third video with Cantlie to be published this year by IS media outlets such as Amaq and its Al-Hayat media centre. He has previously been filmed by IS cameramen in such Syrian and Iraqi cities as Aleppo, Kobani and Raqqa, as well as Mosul. Articles with his byline have also appeared in the magazine Dabiq and other IS print media.

The former Sunday Times reporter was kidnapped near the Turkish border in northern Syria in November 2012 along with US video reporter James Foley, who was one of the three foreign journalists to be beheaded by IS. The others were US reporter Steven Sotloff and Japanese video journalist Kenji Goto.

According to RSF’s tally, around 21 professional and non-professional journalists and media contributors are currently held hostage by IS in Iraq and Syria,

Ranked 158th and 177th respectively in RSF’s 2016 World Press Freedom Index, Iraq and Syria are among the world’s deadliest countries for journalists.