Free Syrian Army threatens life of Russian-Ukrainian journalist (VIDEO)


Journalist Anhar Kochneva.



Russian-Ukrainian reporter Anhar Kochneva faces imminent death unless her Free Syrian Army (FSA) captors are paid a ransom of $50 million, according to The Guardian

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She was taken captive near the Syrian city of Homs early last month as she was believed on assignment for Russian media, said the Guardian, and since then she has released several video appeals. It is not clear if these were issued voluntarily.

The Daily Beast's David Frum today described her case as "horrifying." The rebel's ransom demands were reportedly released in this FSA ultimatum distributed on the internet.

Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs on October 15 released a statement saying they were working with Ukrainian authorities to secure Kochneva's release, but do not appear to have made headway. 

Syrian rebels and regime forces have both been accused of human rights violations during the 20-month uprising there, during which some 40,000 people have been killed as both sides continue to battle for control. 

At least three other press people have been reported missing while on assignment in Syria, said the Guardian, listing Washington Post freelancer Austin Tice, Palestinian Bashar Fahmi al-Kadumim of Al-Hurram television, and Syrian interpreter Mustafa al-Khateeb. 

The Guardian's Roy Greenslade provided the following translation of the video appeal below: 

"I'm Anhar Kochneva, a Ukrainian citizen who was living in Russia. I was born in 1972. I came to Syria on January 2012 as a journalist with a forged ID, but my main task was to translate between Syrian officers and their Russian counterparts.

I took part in battles in Baba Amro and Zabadani, and I was translating for a Russian officer, Peter Petrov, and Syrian officers, Essam Zahr al-Deen and Ali Hotham.

When I arrived in Syria, I met Brigadier General Asef Shawkat and he sent me to Homs. I worked also as a translator in Aleppo and Idlib and Zabadani… I'm here at the behest of Russian intelligence.

They [?] kidnapped me when I was returning from Tartous to Damascus with a captain in the Syrian army whom was assigned to protect me. I ask the governments of Russia and Ukraine to respond to the kidnappers' request."