KIDNAPPING IN SYRIA

Foreign Ministry doing “everything possible” to find missing journalists

José Manuel García-Margallo says intelligence services are working on the case in Syria

Ángel Sastre, Antonio Pampliega and José Manuel López, the reporters who went missing in Syria.
Ángel Sastre, Antonio Pampliega and José Manuel López, the reporters who went missing in Syria.EL PAÍS

Spain’s foreign minister on Wednesday sought to convey a message of calm to the families of the three Spanish journalists who went missing 10 days ago in Syria, noting that this was not the first time such an incident had occurred and that previous cases had all been resolved favorably.

“All the precedents are good,” said José Manuel García-Margallo. “We’ve had no tragedies to regret in the last four years.”

Freelance journalists Antonio Pampliega, Ángel Sastre and José Manuel López entered Syria from Turkey on July 10 and were in the northern city of Aleppo when contact was lost, diplomatic sources have confirmed.

Everything possible is being done and I hope this situation will be resolved well”

Foreign Minister José Manuel García-Margallo

The area where the men disappeared has been the scene of intense fighting in recent days. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported on Friday that at least 11 people had died in bombing attacks carried out by the Syrian regime in the north of the province, while on Monday a US-led coalition launched air attacks against positions held by Islamic State (ISIS).

“These kinds of events are probably the ones that create the most anguish for the foreign service, because you are dealing with a certain amount of powerlessness... but everything possible is being done and I hope this situation will be resolved well,” said the minister, speaking at Madrid’s Casa de América.

García-Margallo noted that dealing with such situations required “maximum discretion” and that operations to find the missing reporters fell to the National Intelligence Center (CNI), which has agents in Syria.

Foreign Minister José Manuel García-Margallo believes the journalists have been kidnapped in Syria.
Foreign Minister José Manuel García-Margallo believes the journalists have been kidnapped in Syria.JOHN THYS (AFP)

By comparison, the only worker the Spanish foreign ministry employs in the country is “a documentalist.”

The Foreign Ministry has contacted the Spanish embassy in the Turkish capital, Ankara, as well as the embassies of “all friendly countries.”

García-Margallo said he had personally spoken with the United Nations Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Syria, Staffan De Mistura.

“This is not the first time this [the disappearance of Spanish citizens in a war zone] has happened. Unfortunately, there have been many [cases] that have been resolved without making the headlines, while others did, but all of them had happy endings,” said the minister.

Citing the families’ wishes, García-Margallo asked for “discretion and respect” with regard to news coverage of the story.

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