Spaniard kidnapped by jihadist rebels in Syria as danger mounts for journalists

'El Periódico' confirms Marc Marginedas has been in hands of an insurgent group since September 4

Marc Marginedas in his office at El Periódico.
Marc Marginedas in his office at El Periódico.EL PERIÓDICO DE CATALUNYA

Spanish journalist Marc Marginedas, a special correspondent for El Periódico de Catalunya, has been in the hands of a rebel group in Syria since September 4, the newspaper confirmed on Monday. Marginedas, 46, was traveling in a car with his driver when they were stopped by jihadist insurgents outside Hama, in the west of the country.

A veteran war correspondent, Marginedas entered Syria on September 1 via Turkey, accompanied by members of the Free Syrian Army (FSA). It is his third assignment in Syria since the civil war broke out in 2011. He sent his last report on September 3 and was scheduled to file again the following day.

In his articles Marginedas had spoken of the dangers of working in the war-torn country and that his FSA contacts had advised him of the need to remain silent. “Foreigners are not trusted and it’s better that you don’t tell anyone who you are.”

None of the insurgent groups in Syria have claimed to have Marginedas in their custody. A jihadist web forum last week issued a call “to capture all journalists, identify the computers they are using and search them for the chips where they store photos and information about jihadists,” it said. Radical Islamic combatants suspect “these are spies working under the cover of being journalists.”

After two and a half years of combat the situation in Syria has changed radically in recent weeks following the alleged use of chemical weapons, and tensions between different factions of the anti-government forces — the majority FSA and the hardline radicals associated with Al Qaeda — have boiled over into open conflict.

Marginedas knows Syria well, and is also no stranger to combat zones. He has worked as a correspondent for El Periódico for two decades and covered the 1991 to 2002 civil war in Algeria between Islamist rebel groups and the government. From 1998 to 2002, he was posted to Moscow to report on the second Chechnya conflict. He has also worked in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Marginedas was in Darfur in 2003 when rebels took up arms against the government and in southern Lebanon during the Israeli offensive of 2006. In 2005 he was posted to London in the wake of the terrorist attacks on the public transport system that claimed 52 lives and injured around 700.

The last few years of his career have been dedicated to covering the Arab Spring in Tunisia and Libya. In May he was shortlisted for the Cirilo Rodríguez Award for Spanish special correspondents.

Italian journalist Domenico Quirico of La Stampa was freed on September 8 after five months of captivity. Reporters Without Borders state that 13 foreign journalists are currently in captivity or missing in Syria.

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