Spanish journalists are to return home. Two journalists from Spain are free after being abducted in Syria. Javier Espinosa and Ricardo Garcia Vilanova were set free after being held captive for six months. They were held by a rogue Al-Qaeda group. The Spanish journalists were captives since last September. The two were detained at a checkpoint in the town of Tal Abyad in the province of Raqqa, where the militants dominate, as they were trying to leave.
According to The Chron, The El Mundo newspaper reported that Javier Espinosa made contact with them late Saturday from Turkey, where he and Ricardo Garcia Vilanova, a photographer, were under protection by the military. At this point it is not clear if the journalists were released by the Islāmic State or if they escaped. According to ABC News, Spain’s Defense Ministry says they are flying back home Sunday.
Syria is the most dangerous country for reporters to visit. Nearly 30 have been killed since the conflict began in 2011. Dozens more have been kidnapped by rebels and pro-government forces. Most of the kidnappings have been in rebel-held territories, particularly in North and Eastern Syria, where the Islāmic State is present. Now that the two reporters are free, there are still at least nine foreign correspondents still missing in Syria and 10 Syrian journalists. Where they are and what will happen to them remains unclear.
According to ABC News, a spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry said the government uses “maximum discretion” when dealing with kidnapped journalists, and refused to comment on if ransom was involved. The woman divulged information only on condition that she remain anonymous. Activists are also targets for abduction. Reporters Without Borders says about 20 activists are held by the Islāmic State, while an unknown number are held by the government.
Spanish journalists to return home. According to Time, The Hanein Network, a plea was issued by a network linked to Al-Qaeda to Syria in December for the discharge of Espinosa and Vilanova, describing them as brave, risking their own lives to report the facts. Its home page displays the Spanish journalists in a soft-focus background. A masked militant from the Islāmic State stands in the front, holding two cats, apparently in an appeal to the group’s sentimental side.
Spanish journalists to return home. Syria has been a war zone since the Arab Spring started in 2011. The activism in Egypt and Tunisia inspired Syrian protesters to demonstrate against their leader Assad’s regime. Syrians wanted a change in government, including democracy. These protests did not go over well with their fascist leader Assad who responded with extreme measures like the kidnapping, torture and killing of protesters. Government troops opened fire on civilians, who then fired back and started the civil war that is still occurring. This war has taken a serious toll on the citizens of the country who are fleeing in droves to the Turkish border. There are refugee camps set up near the border for those that need homes. The citizens that stay remain in danger and continue to fight.
By Nicole Drawc