CPJ calls for the release of Japanese journalist

New York, May 31, 2016 – The Committee to Protect Journalists calls for the immediate release of freelance Japanese journalist Jumpei Yasuda, who went missing in Syria nearly a year ago.

A photo emerged this weekend showing a bearded man believed to be Yasuda in an orange jumpsuit holding a sign saying, “Please help me” and, “This is the last chance,” according to news reports. Yasuda went missing in late June 2015 after crossing into northern Syria from Turkey. Yasuda previously worked with Mainichi Shimbun newspaper and the Japan News Network television station, according to his website, which CPJ reviewed before it was taken offline.

“We join in solidarity with journalists from around the world in calling for the immediate and safe release of Jumpei Yasuda,” said CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator, Sherif Mansour. “We implore his captors to release him immediately.”

Yasuda appeared in a video in March 2016 in which he appeared to read from a prepared text saying that no one cared about his captivity. Both the photo and video were released by a Syrian named Tarik Abdul Hak, who identifies himself as a fixer and activist from the northwestern Syrian town of Jisr al-Shughur. Abdul Hak has repeatedly claimed that Nusra Front, Al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, was responsible for the abduction and that the group would sell the journalist as a hostage to militants from the Islamic State group. Abdul Hak denies having any formal relationship with Nusra Front.