Reporters Without Borders is relieved to learn that two Turkish journalists who were captured while making a documentary in northwestern Syria two months ago were released today. Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the Iranian government acted as mediator in their release.
Adem Özköse, a reporter for the magazine Gerçek Hayat and the daily Milat, and cameraman Hamit Coşkun were abducted by a pro-government militia near the northwestern city of Idleb on 10 March and were handed over to a government intelligence agency.
IHH, a Turkish Islamist humanitarian NGO, announced on 5 May that it had managed to visit the two detained journalists in Damascus. Turgut Alp Boyraz, the head of foreign news at Milat, said they were able to telephone their families on 5 May for the first time since their capture.
Credit : AFP PHOTO/ IHH - Turkish journalists, reporter Adem Ozkose (L) and cameraman Hamit Coskun (R) posing with the President of the IHH Fehmi Bulent Yildirim in Damascus.
Announcing their release, the Turkish foreign minister said: “We expect that they will arrive in Tehran shortly. At our prime minister’s request, we have sent a plane to Iran to bring back journalists.” They are expected to arrive in Turkey this evening or tomorrow, the Turkish news agency Anatolia reported.
Reporters Without Borders said: “Their release is a big relief but more than 37 journalists and citizen journalists are still detained in Syria. We must not forget them.”
15.03.2012 - Two Turkish journalists and Syrian assistants kidnapped in northwestern Syria
Reporters Without Borders is very worried about the fate of two Turkish journalists, Adem Özköse, a reporter for the magazine Gerçek Hayat and the daily Milat, and cameraman Hamit Coşkun, who went missing near the northwestern city of Idlib five days ago.
According to the information obtained by Reporters Without Borders, the two journalists and the Syrians who were accompanying them were abducted by Shabiha militiamen in the pay of the Assad governmentat at a checkpoint outside Kefraya, a Shiite village near Bannish, a town just to the northeast of Idlib.
The two Turkish journalists, who had entered Syria to make a documentary, were then reportedly handed over to the Syrian authorities.
Reporters Without Borders urges the Syrian authorities to release the two journalists and their Syrian assistants. Our fears have been reinforced by the information minister’s statements on 9 March threatening foreign journalists who enter Syria illegally and the Syrians who help them.
On 9 March, the Syrian armed forces launched a major assault on Idlib, a stronghold of the opposition Free Syrian Army, with a reported civilian death toll of 114. The government forces now control the city but civilian casualties are said to be continuing. Communication with the city has been completely cut off.