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Relief after Release of Dutch Journalist Kidnapped in Yemen

11 December 2013

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) have welcomed the release of Dutch journalist Judith Spiegel and commended their Dutch affiliate, the Dutch Association of Journalists (NVJ), for its tireless work and commitment in helping secure her freedom.

Spiegel and her husband, Boudewijn Berendsen, were kidnapped from their house in the Haddah area of Yemen's capital city Sana'a around the beginning of the second week of June by a group of gunmen. According to reports, they were released at the weekend and are expected to return to the Netherlands on Wednesday.

"We welcome the fantastic news that Judith Spiegel and her partner have been released after being held in Yemen for over seven months and can now return to their family, loved ones and colleagues," said IFJ President Jim Boumelha." On this day of great relief and joy we congratulate our affiliate, the Dutch Association of Journalists, and thank them for their dedication and commitment in helping to secure Judith and her husband's safe return. We also send out thanks to our affiliate, the Yemeni Journalist Syndicate (YJS), for their unwavering support for the couple."

Over the last few months, the NVJ has kept in contact with the person who has been negotiating with the kidnappers, while also maintaining close contact with government officials, including the ministry of Foreign Affairs, who have been working behind the scenes to secure the couple's release.

It is believed that Judith and her husband were abducted in an attempt to extract a ransom or potentially exert political pressure on the Yemeni government.

"The release of Judith Spiegel is a positive step forward in the struggle for press freedom, justice and the right of journalists to work freely and safely in Yemen," said EFJ President Mogens Blicher-Bjerregård.
"But the country remains a dangerous location for both local and international journalists. Local authorities and security agencies must step up their efforts to protect the safety and freedoms of journalists, while journalists working there must remain vigilant at all times."

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