“We are delighted to learn that this German journalist has been finally been freed almost a year after being abducted by an armed group in Syria,” said Alexandra El Khazen, the head of RSF’s Middle East desk.
“Although we do not yet know the identity of her kidnappers or the exact circumstances of her release, we remind all parties to the conflict in Syria of their duty to protect civilians, including journalists. Syria continues to be the world’s deadliest countries for media personnel.”
The German foreign ministry issued a statement yesterday evening announcing that the journalist and her baby had been freed and had arrived safe and sound in Turkey. She was already pregnant when captured by unidentified individuals in Syria in October 2015.
The foreign ministry thanked the Turkish government for its cooperation. It also thanked its international partners for their efforts.
Jabhat Fatah Al-Sham, the armed group formerly known as Al-Nusra Front, issued a statement claiming that it helped to free the journalist from captivity by a small armed group, which it did not name. RSF is not in a position to confirm the accuracy of Jabhat Fatah Al-Sham’s claim.
The head of RSF’s German section, Christian Mihr, said: “We owe thanks and appreciation to the German authorities who have managed to avert an end like James Foley’s for this abduction.”
Mihr added: “We hope that those responsible for crimes like these will be held accountable sooner rather than later. This will be the only way to break the cycle of impunity encouraging others to commit ever new crimes against journalists.”
Last year, RSF asked the United Nations Security Council to refer the situation in Syria and Iraq, where war crimes are being committed against journalists, to the International Criminal Court.
According to RSF’s tally, around 200 journalists and citizen journalists have been killed since the start of the conflict in Syria in March 2011, 14 of them in 2016. American journalist Austin Tice is still missing in Syria since he disappeared in 2012. Syria is ranked 177th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2016 World Press Freedom Index.