Japanese journalist held in Syria believed to be freed

October 24, 2018 | By | Reply More

A Japanese journalist kidnapped in Syria more than three years ago is believed to have been released, the government said Tuesday.

JapaneseJumpei Yasuda, a 44-year-old freelancer, was seized in the war-torn country in June 2015, and appeared in a rare video released by a militant group over the summer warning that he was in a bad situation.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a late night press conference the government was trying to verify information from Qatari authorities but it was “highly likely” Yasuda had finally been freed.

“The Qatar government informed us that Jumpei Yasuda has been freed and is now at the immigration centre in Antakya” in Turkey, Suga said.

“We’re now verifying the information … but it’s highly likely it is Jumpei Yasuda himself,” he added.

A jihadist group in August released videos of the Japanese journalist and Italian national Alessandro Sandrini, in which they appeal for their release.

Both men were wearing orange outfits with armed, masked men standing behind them.

The videos did not identify which group was holding the men or include specific demands.

Yasuda is thought to have been seized by the group previously known as the Al-Nusra Front, a former Al-Qaeda affiliate, in northern Syria.

But with the shifting territory of Syria’s complicated conflict, it is unclear whether he is still being held by his original abductors or has been transferred to other captors.

In the video, he identified himself as Korean and gave a different name, but spoke in Japanese.

He gave the recording date as Jul 25, saying he was in a bad situation and asking for help.

His wife said she had no idea why Yasuda had identified himself as Korean in the video, but confirmed it showed him and that he is Japanese.

In 2015 militants from the Islamic State group beheaded Japanese war correspondent Kenji Goto and his friend Haruna Yukawa in Syria.

The Japanese government was criticised for what detractors saw as its flat-footed response to the crisis at the time, including apparently missed opportunities to free both men.

Press journalist for HRO media – Ignacio Damigo reports.

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Category: International

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