New York, August 24, 2014 - The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the release of American freelance journalist Peter Theo Curtis, who was held captive by the al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra since October 2012, according to U.S officials and news reports. U.N. Secretary General spokesman Stephane Dujarric told CPJ Curtis was handed over to U.N. peacekeepers in the Golan Heights at 6:40 PM local time and transferred to U.S. representatives after a medical check-up. The release comes a week after the Islamic State group, which split from Jabhat al-Nusra, released a video last week showing the brutal murder of American freelance journalist James Foley and the threat to murder another American journalist, Steven Sotloff.
"We could not be happier that Peter Theo Curtis will return home safely to his family after nearly two years of harrowing captivity in Syria," said CPJ's Middle East and North Africa program coordinator, Sherif Mansour. "We remain deeply concerned for the safety of all the journalists who remain hostages in Syria."
Syria has been the most dangerous country in the world for journalists for more than two years. At least 70 journalists have been killed covering the conflict there, including some who died over the border in Lebanon and Turkey. More than 80 journalists have been kidnapped in Syria; with frequent abductions, some of which go unpublicized, it is difficult to know exactly how many. CPJ estimates that approximately 20 journalists are currently missing in Syria, the majority of whom are Syrian.