Three abducted journalists released in Syria

New York, January 8, 2014–The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the news that three abducted journalists in Syria have been freed this week. The Swedish Foreign Ministry confirmed today that freelance Swedish journalists Magnus Falkehed and Niclas Hammarstrom, both of whom were abducted in November, were released. On Sunday, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said Turkish intelligence services had helped secure the release of Milliyet photojournalist Bünyamin Aygün, who had been held for more than a month.

“We feel nothing but relief for the families of the freed journalists who are now safe after their terrible ordeals,” said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney. “But we must not forget the dozens of journalists who remain missing in Syria, the most dangerous country in the world for the press.”

CPJ research shows that a journalist was kidnapped in Syria more than once a week in 2013. Aygün told journalists after his release that he believed “Al-Qaeda-linked groups had a connection with my kidnapping.” The Swedish government did not offer any details on Falkehed and Hammarstrom’s abductors or on the circumstances surrounding their release, but Hammarstrom told news media that the pair had been abducted by criminals who beat them in captivity.