Three Spanish journalists kidnapped 10 months ago in Syria freed

The freelancers are safe and sound in Turkey and are awaiting to be flown back to Spain

José Manuel López, Ángel Sastre and Antonio Pampliega, in Syria before their kidnap.
José Manuel López, Ángel Sastre and Antonio Pampliega, in Syria before their kidnap.Reprodução

The Spanish journalists Antonio Pampliega, José Manuel López and Ángel Sastre, who were kidnapped 10 months ago in Aleppo, in the north of Syria, have been freed, according to sources from the Spanish government.

The three freelancers are safe and sound and are currently in Turkey, where the Spanish authorities have already sent a plane to facilitate their return to Spain.

The same sources have reported that the freeing of the men happened just a few hours ago and that the acting deputy prime minister, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, has been in touch with them this afternoon.

What's more, the sources reported that their liberation has been possible thanks to "the work of many public servants and the collaboration of allied countries and friends," principally in the final phase from Turkey and Qatar.

The last time there was contact with the three journalists was on July 12, 2015. They were in the city of Aleppo, in the north of the country, which was under the control of the Al-Nusra Front, the Syrian branch of Al Qaeda. The three freelancers had entered Syria two days before from Turkey.

The acting Spanish justice minister, Rafael Catalá, said at the time that the government would act with "all of the resources in its reach," with "all of the intelligence capabilities and the security forces" to free the journalists should a kidnapping be confirmed. "First we need to know what happened," he said at the time, who is holding them, "with what objective," and if they "are seeking a rescue."

Pampliega, born in Madrid, has worked for EL PAÍS and also was part of the team from the TV show Infiltrados, broadcast by Cuatro, as well as writing the blog Un mundo en Guerra, where he explains his coverage of a number of different conflicts since the year 2010. Ángel Sastre has worked with Cuatro, radio station Onda Cero and daily La Razón, having covered a number of conflict zones in Latin America and the Middle East and was awarded the Larra Prize in 2010, which is awarded to journalists under the age of 30. The photojournalist José Manuel López has won a number of awards for his work, which has taken him to more than 60 countries and has seen his work published in L'Espresso and Le Monde.

English version by Simon Hunter.

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