Jumpei Yasuda (Jiji Press/AFP)
Jumpei Yasuda (Jiji Press/AFP)

Four international reporters missing in north Syria

Beirut, July 21, 2015–At least four international journalists have been reported missing in northern Syria in two separate incidents in the past month, in the latest indication of the profound dangers of reporting from inside the war-torn country.

“The disappearance of these four journalists underscores that Syria remains an extremely risky place for the press,” said CPJ’s Middle East Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour from Washington D.C. “The media are at the mercy of all sides in the conflict, which have consistently shown not only a disregard for civilians’ rights but a willingness to use journalists for their own deadly purposes.”

Spanish freelance journalists Ángel Sastre, Antonio Pampliega, and José Manuel López have been missing for more than a week, the Spanish Federation of Journalist Associations (FAPE) said today. The men were last known to be in Aleppo, Spanish media reported, citing government sources in Madrid. El País wrote that the sources “do not have any indications of a kidnapping incident.”

A statement issued today by the families of the journalists said the three disappeared on July 13. The families said they did not have more information on their location or status. Sastre, a TV correspondent, Pampliega, a reporter, and López, a photojournalist, had entered Syria a few days before they went missing, according to reports.

Freelance Japanese reporter Jumpei Yasuda, who traveled independently of the Spaniards, is also missing, news reports say. He has not been active on Twitter since June 20 when he posted a message that reporting in northern Syria was becoming increasingly dangerous. CNN cited an unnamed friend of Yasuda’s as saying he last heard from the reporter on June 23 when he said he planned to enter Syria from Turkey. CPJ’s efforts to reach Yasuda’s family in Japan have been unsuccessful.

Syria has been the most deadly country in the world for journalists for the past three years. While most victims are local journalists, at least 12 international correspondents have been killed in the course of the war, according to CPJ research. More than 90 journalists have been abducted in the country since the conflict began and approximately 25 are currently missing, most of them local.