Conflict & Justice

Italians journalists kidnapped in Syria released


Turkish journalists in Ankara, on February 24, 2012, hold pictures of journalists who died covering the crisis in Syria, New York Times correspondent Anthony Shadid (L), who died from an asthma attack as he was crossing from Syria back to Turkey, and French photojournalist Remi Ochlik (C) and Sunday Times correspondent Marie Colvin (R), killed in an alleged rocket attack by Syrian regime forces against a makeshift opposition media center in the besieged city of Homs in Syria on February 22, during a demonstration by journalists denouncing violence against members of the media and the brutality of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime.


Adem Altan

Four Italian journalists who were kidnapped in Syria have been released after being held hostage for over a week.

The three men and one woman were said to be three freelancers and a reporter filming a documentary for Italy's public broadcaster RAI when they were abducted around April 4.

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No details of who was holding them have been given, but the four are reportedly now safe in Turkey. They have not yet been officially named, but have been identified in Italian media as RAI reporter Amedeo Ricucci, Italian freelancers Elio Colavolpe and Andrea Vignali, and Italian-Syrian reporter Susan Dabbous.

While reports said that Ricucci told Italian state news agency ANSA by telephone that they had been held by an armed Islamist group and that none of them were wounded, BBC News quoted him as saying being held captive had been "psychological torture."

Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti made a statement, thanking everyone involved in the release of the four journalists for professionalism that "enabled a positive outcome of this affair, which was made all the more complicated by the extreme danger of the situation."

An Italian citizen and two Russians were also kidnapped in Syria on December 12 and were later freed in February as part of an exchange for fighters.

Syria is considered the most dangerous country in the world for reporters by the Committee to Protect Journalists. The group says 28 journalists were killed in fighting in the country last year and at least 21 were kidnapped.

All sides involved in the conflict in Syria have been accused of attacking journalists.