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IFJ/EFJ Deeply Concerned about Spanish Journalists Abducted in Syria

11 December 2013

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) have appealed for the immediate release of two Spanish journalists who have been held in Syria for nearly four months.

According to media reports, Javier Espinosa, the special correspondent on the Syria conflict for the Spanish daily El Mundo, and Ricardo G. Vilanova, a freelance photojournalist, are being held by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). El Mundo has reported that the journalists were kidnapped on 16 September at the Tal Abyad checkpoint in Raqqa province, close to the border with Turkey. They were abducted while trying to leave Syria.

Hoping to secure the release of the journalists and avoid harming negotiations with the kidnappers, the Spanish daily and the journalist's families have not informed anyone about their abduction until now.
"We stand in solidarity with the family and colleagues of the Spanish journalists, Javier Espinosa and Ricardo G. Vilanova," said IFJ President Jim Boumelha. "These men are not spies, but journalists. They have committed no crimes and were in Syria to report on the country's conflict. We appeal to their captors to release them with immediate effect and allow them to return home."

Espinosa is an award winning veteran reporter who has covered international conflicts all around the world. He was previously abducted in 1999 in Sierra Leona and was freed. And Vilonova is a very experienced photographer who was previously arrested by the ISIS group in Aleppo.

The situation in Syria has become increasingly volatile in recent months, with a number of journalist kidnappings taking place. Since the country's uprising in March 2011, it has become the most dangerous in the world for journalists, with around 30 Syrian and international journalists kidnapped.

On 26 November, the IFJ and the EFJ appealed for the safe return of two Swedish journalists, Magnus Falkehead and Niclas Hammarström, who were abducted as they tried to leave Syria.

Also, on 17 October the IFJ called for the release of two Sky News Arabia journalists who went missing in the city of Aleppo in northern Syria, and on 9 October the IFJ/EFJ appealed for the return of French journalists Nicolas Henin and Peter Torres.

For more information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 17
The IFJ represents more than 600 000 journalists in 134 countries