Three Spanish journalists kidnapped in Syria

It is believed that the trio of freelancers were taken about 10 days ago

Alistair Dawber
Tuesday 21 July 2015 22:37
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Three Spanish journalists have reportedly been kidnapped near the Syrian city of Aleppo.

It is believed that the three - Antonio Pampliega, José Manuel López and Ángel Sastre – were taken about 10 days ago. It is not known yet which group has detained them, but parts of Aleppo, and the surrounding area, are held by the Islamist militant group Isis.

Their disappearance was confirmed by Fape, the Spanish Federation of Press Associations. Spain’s foreign ministry, said that it is “aware of the situation,” according to the El Pais newspaper, which reported that the ministry would confirm nothing further than the fact that it is “working on it.”

None of the men – all freelancers – has been active on Twitter for the last 11 days. On 10 July, Mr Sastre tweeted the word, “courage” written in Spanish, English and Arabic.

Mr Sastre is an accomplished foreign news reporter and in the past has worked for La Razón, a Madrid-based newspaper, the TV station, Cuatro and the Onda Cero radio station. It is not known who he was working for during his latest trip to Syria. In early 2013 he spent a month reporting from northern Syria.

Elsa Gonzalez, president of the Federation of Press Associations of Spain, said: "In that region there is intense fighting going on, so there is cause for concern," she said. "For the moment we can only call it a disappearance. They cannot yet conclude that they have been kidnapped."

Two other Spanish journalists, Javier Espinosa, a foreign correspondent for El Mundo newspaper, and a freelance photographer, Ricardo Garica Vilanova, were released by Isis in March 2014 after spending more than 190 days in captivity. They were held with other Westerns, some of whom were later murdered by the Islamist group.

The Spanish government has refused to confirm previous reports that it paid ransom demands for the two reporters. The three captured recently are among 40 or so foreign reporters who have been kidnapped by various groups in Syria.

Northern Syria, much of which is in the hands of either Isis, or other Islamist groups, has effectively been a no-go area for journalists and other Westerns in recent years, such is the risk of kidnap.

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