Journalists Still Missing In Syria
Mohammed al-Saeed, a presenter for Syrian state TV, was kidnapped by the al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front on July 19, 2012. The group said in a press release dated August 3 that it executed al-Saeed, but that claim has not been independently verified. At the time, state TV director Maan Saleh told Agence France Presse: "We have no material proof of this killing."
Talal Janbakeli, a cameraman for Syrian state TV, was filming in Damascus on August 3, 2012, when he was kidnapped by armed men from a rebel group called Haroun al-Rashid Battalion, according to news reports. The group posted a video on YouTube with a frightened Janbakeli saying he had been captured. In the video, armed men ask the cameraman what advice he has for his colleagues; he responds that they should abandon President Bashar al-Assad and his army. CPJ has not heard anything about his case since.
Ahmad Sattouf, a Syrian correspondent for the Iranian satellite broadcaster Al-Alam, was kidnapped by unidentified armed men on August 13, 2012 while he was returning home near Tadmour Square in Homs, according to a statement on his employer’s website. The Al-Alam office where Sattouf works was also ransacked, the broadcaster reported, although it is unclear if it occurred on the same day as the kidnapping. Al-Alam has not posted anything about his case since.
Austin Tice, an American freelance journalist for the Washington Post, Al Jazeera English and McClatchy was kidnapped in Syria on the August 13, 2012.
Bashar Fahmi, an al-Hurra correspondent, disappeared during a firefight in Aleppo on August 20, 2012, along with Turkish cameraman Cüneyt Ünal. Ünal was released by the Syrian government in November 2012, but there has still been no word on Fahmi's fate. On the one year anniversary of his disappearance, Fahmi’s employer said, "It is unimaginable that one year later we are still at a loss for information regarding the whereabouts or well-being of Bashar.”
James Foley, an American freelance journalist, was abducted by an unknown group on November 22, 2012, according to his family. Foley, who has contributed to Global Post and Agence France-Presse, was traveling in Idlib province toward the border with Turkey when his car was intercepted, Global Post reported, citing the account of a witness interviewed by a Turkish journalist. Two armed assailants forced Foley out of his vehicle and he has not been seen or heard from since, according to the news website, citing the witness account. Despite an extensive search, the family said late last year that it still does not know who has detained Foley.
Aboud Haddad, a photographer who worked for the Syrian opposition TV station Orient News, was kidnapped in the Idlib province city of Atma, close to the Turkish border, on June 26, 2013. Mohanad al-Sayed Ali, the station's head of news reporters, told CPJ it is believed the pair are being held by the al-Qaeda affiliate Islamic State of Iraq and Sham.
Obaida Batal, correspondent for the Syrian opposition TV station Orient News, broadcast engineer Hussam Nidham al-Deen, and assistant engineer Aboud al-Atiq, were taken hostage on July 25, 2013 when armed men raided the station’s office in the countryside north of Aleppo. Mohanad al-Sayed Ali, the station's head of news reporters, told CPJ that it is believed they are being held by the al-Qaeda affiliate Islamic State of Iraq and Sham.
Mohamed Nour Matar, a citizen journalist who has made videos for the local media non-profit Al-Shara, went missing while covering a protest in the city of al-Raqqa in opposition to the al-Qaeda affiliate Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS), according to news reports. Following a suicide bombing at the demonstration, Matar's brother, Amer, found Matar's charred camera in the rubble. Matar was believed dead until friends and family received news that he was being held by ISIS, according to Al-Shara's Facebook page.
Marc Marginedas, special correspondent for the Barcelona-based El Periódico was kidnapped by rebel jihadi fighters on September 4, 2013 near the city of Hama, the paper reported citing unnamed sources. According to El Periódico, Marginedas had entered Syria through southern Turkey on September 1 in the company of Free Syrian Army forces to report on the use of chemical weapons in the Damascus suburbs on August 21 and preparations for a possible Western military intervention.
Javier Espinosa, correspondent for the Spanish daily El Mundo, and Ricardo Garcia Vilanova, an award-winning freelance photographer, were abducted by armed men on September 16, 2013 at a checkpoint near the northern Syria town of Tal-Abyad, according to a statement issued by their families. They were taken to a detention facility run by the al-Qaeda affiliate Islamic State of Iraq and Sham in Raqqa, along with four Free Syrian Army soldiers who had been escorting them. The soldiers were released nearly two weeks later. The families, which initially remained silent on the case, said ISIS has refused to negotiate for the journalists' release or explain why they are being held. The group has not disclosed any further information about the journalists.
Rami al-Razzouk, a journalist for the local news outlet Radio ANA, was abducted by gunmen from the al-Qaeda affiliate Islamic State of Iraq and Sham on October 1, 2013, the station reported. ISIS gunmen raided Radio ANA's office again on October 15, confiscating the station's radio and communications equipment, the station said.
A Sky News Arabic crew, including Mauritanian correspondent Ishak Moctar, Samir Kassab, a Lebanese photographer and a Syrian driver who has not been named at the request of the family, went missing October 15, 2013, while reporting on the humanitarian situation near Aleppo, the station reported.
Our thanks to CPJ and RSF for their research and reports above.