New York, July 10, 2000—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is gravely concerned over the apparent kidnapping July 9 of three French journalists by members of the Abu Sayyaf rebel group in the Philippines. Reporter Maryse Burgot and cameramen Jean-Jacques Le Garrec and Roland Madura were part of a team sent by the television station France 2 to report on the ongoing hostage crisis on the southern island of Jolo.
Philippine police told reporters they spotted the three earlier today at a base camp belonging to Galib Andang, one of the leaders of the Abu Sayyaf. The Abu Sayyaf is now believed to be holding 40 hostages, 20 of whom have been held for nearly three months after their abduction from a Malaysian resort.
Police also suspect that members of the Abu Sayyaf are behind the kidnapping of German journalist Andreas Lorenz, a correspondent for the Hamburg-based news magazine Der Spiegel. Lorenz has been missing since July 2, when he was forcibly led away by a group of armed men about a mile outside Jolo town.
Lorenz was one of ten foreign journalists who were kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf guerrillas in early June. Together they paid a ransom of $25,000 for their release, according to press reports.
“This practice of kidnapping foreign journalists and holding them for ransom is extremely worrisome, and sets a dangerous precedent,” said Ann K. Cooper, CPJ’s executive director. “If rebel groups feel they can profit financially from such actions and are permitted to act with impunity, no journalist is safe.
“The Philippine government must make every effort to ensure the safety of these journalists and to secure their release,” she said.