Spanish correspondent freed by insurgent group in Syria

Marc Marginedas back in Spain but two further nationals remain in hands of Al Qaeda-linked group

Marc Marginedas (right) is welcomed home by his family Barcelona.
Marc Marginedas (right) is welcomed home by his family Barcelona.JORDI COTRINA / EFE

Spanish journalist Marc Marginedas, a special correspondent in Syria for El Periódico de Catalunya, was released overnight Saturday after almost six months in captivity. Marginedas, a veteran war correspondent who has covered the Civil War in Algeria, the Chechnya conflict, Iraq and Afghanistan, was kidnapped by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) rebel insurgency group last September 4.

Marginedas crossed the border into Turkey after his release, where he was examined by doctors. Later Sunday, he returned to Barcelona. He was taken at a road check point while traveling near the western city of Hama after being helped into Syria by members of the Free Syrian Army.

According to El Periódico, Marginedas had been moved by his captors “more frequently and in very adverse conditions” in recent weeks.

The Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ) estimates there are 30 foreign correspondents in captivity in Syria, the vast majority in the hands of jihadist insurgent groups but some held by the government of Bashar al-Assad. A further two Spanish reporters are still unaccounted for after being captured by ISIL around the same time as Marginedas.

Javier Espinosa, an El Mundo correspondent, and Ricard García Vilanova, a freelance photographer working with him, were kidnapped in Tal Abyad in the north of Syria, near to the border with Turkey, on September 16 2013. ISIL, a group linked to Al Qaeda, is also believed to be holding the Spaniards.

The release of Marginedas brought hope to the families of Espinosa and Vilanova that they may also be freed, said Gervasio Sánchez, a journalist and spokesman for the missing men.

Both the Spanish and Catalan governments expressed their satisfaction at Marginedas’ release. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said he had spoken to the correspondent and that he was “reasonably well.”

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