Video shows Turkish cameraman held captive in Syria
|Publisher||Committee to Protect Journalists|
|Publication Date||27 August 2012|
|Cite as||Committee to Protect Journalists, Video shows Turkish cameraman held captive in Syria, 27 August 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/503f1cec23.html [accessed 20 February 2017]|
New York, August 27, 2012 – The Committee to Protect Journalists calls for the immediate release of Turkish cameraman Cüneyt Ünal, who appeared exhausted and bruised in a video aired today in which he said he had been taken captive while reporting in Syria.
A screen grab of the video. (AFP/Al-Ikhbariya)
Ünal, a cameraman for the U.S. government-funded broadcaster Al-Hurra, was reported missing in the northwestern city of Aleppo on August 20 along with an Al-Hurra colleague, reporter Bashar Fahmi, a Palestinian. Ünal makes no mention of Fahmi in the video clip.
The journalist does not explicitly name his captors in the video. Ünal recounts traveling with an armed group that clashed with "Syrian soldiers and gendarmerie." He goes on to say, "After that, they took me from the armed group and brought me here." He does not state where he is being held. The date of the video is also unclear.
At a press conference in Ankara, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the Syrian government was responsible for Ünal's safety, according to news reports. "He was forced to make a statement that was dictated to him," news reports cited Davutoglu as saying.
Ünal, whose face showed evident bruising, said in the video that he entered Syria illegally with armed men from Libya, Chechnya, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar. The video shows a picture of the journalist holding a rocket launcher.
"We hold Syrian authorities responsible for the safety and well-being of Cüneyt Ünal and Bashar Fahmi," said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. "We call on authorities to immediately secure the release of Ünal and Fahmi and ensure that members of the media are not used as pawns during a conflict."
CPJ has documented a resurgence in dangers facing the press in Syria in the past several weeks. U.S. freelance journalist Austin Tice has not been heard from since mid-August. The Syrian government has blocked international news media access to the conflict. As a result, journalists have been secretly crossing the border and embedding with rebel groups in order to cover the story. At least 19 journalists have been killed covering the Syrian conflict since November, including one killed just over the border in Lebanon, making Syria the most dangerous place in the world for journalists, according to CPJ research.