Kidnapped US journalist freed in Syria

Kidnapped US journalist freed in Syria
Mon Aug 25, 2014 08:34:34

An American journalist kidnapped nearly two years ago has reportedly been freed in Syria following Qatari mediation and handed over to UN peacekeepers in the Golan Heights.

Peter Theo Curtis was handed over to UN peacekeepers in the village of al-Rafid, Quneitra, on Sunday. He has since been turned over to representatives from the US government after undergoing medical check-up, the UN said.

Curtis' family thanked both the governments of the US and Qatar, as well as others who helped negotiate his release.

According to a statement from his family, Curtis was captured in October 2012 and was reportedly held by the al-Nusra Front terrorist group or by splinter gangs allied with the al-Qaeda-affiliated group.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said he was relieved Curtis was returning home, before laying blame on al-Nusra Front for the kidnapping.

"We are all relieved and grateful knowing that Theo Curtis is coming home after so much time held in the clutches of [al-Nusrah Front], he said.

Kerry also said the US was using "every diplomatic, intelligence, and military tool" available to release other Americans held hostage.

Footage of the American was released on June 30, showing a disheveled Curtis with long hair and beard, but appearing to be in good health.

Speaking in a video obtained by Al Jazeera, Curtis read from a prepared script stating his name and profession, saying he was a journalist from Boston, Massachusetts.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), at least 67 journalists have been killed in Syria since the start of the foreign-backed insurgency war in the Arab country, highlighting the risks of reporting from there.

Dozens of journalists covering the foreign-hatched war have been seized since the conflict began in March 2011, with many others still missing.


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