Spanish journalists kidnapped in Syria freed

Javier Espinosa (left) and Ricardo Garcia Vilanova (right) arrived in Madrid on Sunday.

Two Spanish journalists who were abducted on 16 September 2013 in Syria by a group with links to al Qaeda have been freed.


El Mundo correspondent Javier Espinosa, 49, and freelance photographer Ricardo Garcia Vilanova, 42, were reunited with overjoyed family in Madrid yesterday (Sunday).

Spanish newspaper El Mundo has not given the full details of the release.

The men landed at Madrid’s Torrejon de Ardoz military airport after being handed over to authorities in Turkey.

Espinosa said: “We want to thank everyone who has worried about us and who has made it possible for us to return home, and as you can see, we are perfectly well.”

The pair have made numerous trips to war-torn Syria – often together. And they have both been in similar situations.

Espinosa was previously kidnapped whilst covering a conflict in Sierra Leone, while Garcia was kidnapped in 2012 in Syria and held for 12 days.

El Mundo reported in December that the men had been kidnapped at the Tal Abyad checkpoint in Raqqa province, close to the Turkish border, as they were preparing to leave Syria after two weeks of covering the conflict.

They were travelling with Free Syrian Army fighters who were also kidnapped by the group, but released 12 days later.

The newspaper said the captors were reported to be members of a group linked to the al Qaeda-backed Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

Initially, the group did not make any demands and reportedly they only wanted to ensure the two journalists were not spies, according to El Mundo.



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