Statements   |   Syria, UK

Militant group must release kidnapped British journalist

September 18, 2014, New York--The Islamic State militant group released a video today that shows John Cantlie, a British freelance journalist kidnapped in Syria in 2012, making what he said would be the first of a series of statements, according to news reports. Cantlie's abduction in Syria nearly two years ago was not previously reported by CPJ and other groups at the request of his family.

"We are deeply concerned for the safety of John Cantlie, who has been forced to make this statement to advance the propaganda aims of Islamic State," said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. "We refuse to further those aims and have only one thing to say: Islamic State militants must free John Cantlie and all other remaining hostages immediately."

In the past month, the militant group has published three other videos showing the beheading of civilians, including U.S. freelance journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff.

More than 80 journalists have been kidnapped in Syria since 2011, but with frequent abductions, some of which go unpublicized, the exact number is difficult to assess. CPJ estimates that approximately 20 journalists are currently missing in Syria, many of whom are believed held by the Islamic State group. The vast majority of the journalists believed held by Islamic State are Syrian. At least 71 journalists have been killed covering the conflict there, including some who died over the border in Lebanon and Turkey, according to CPJ research.

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