Spanish journalist freed from Syrian rebel captivity

In this file photo released by the Spanish newspaper El Periodico on Sunday, journalist Marc Marginedas, who works for the paper, sits at his laptop computer at a Canadian base in Nakhonay, Afganistan, in 2010. Marginedas, who was kidnapped by Al Qaeda-linked militants in Syria, crossed the border into Turkey on Sunday, his newspaper reported.
(Agustin Catalan / Associated Press)

BEIRUT -- A Spanish journalist kidnapped by Islamist rebels and held for almost six months inside Syria has been released and was safe in neighboring Turkey, his newspaper reported Sunday.

Marc Marginedas, accompanied by Spanish officials, was undergoing a medical evaluation in Turkey, reported El Periodico, his employer.

Since his release, Marginedas has been able to speak with his family in Barcelona, and with Spanish authorities, including President Mariano Rajoy, his newspaper said.


The journalist crossed the border from Syria into Turkey early Sunday, the newspaper reported.

There were no details on how he came to be released or whether any ransom had been paid.

Marginedas, a veteran war correspondent, was kidnapped Sept. 4 near the Syrian city of Hama, the newspaper said. He had entered the country three days earlier on a reporting trip, the newspaper reported.

El Periodico initially withheld news of his abduction in the hope that public silence would help facilitate negotiations for his release. But when all efforts to secure his freedom failed, the newspaper went public with the news of his kidnapping on Sept. 23, unleashing a wave of international solidarity for the abducted correspondent.

According to El Periodico, Marginedas was held by one of the most radical Syrian rebel groups, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. The Al Qaeda breakaway faction holds sway in stretches of northern Syria that have fallen out of the control of the central government in Damascus.

The journalist was repeatedly moved to various rebel-controlled zones during his almost six months in captivity, his newspaper reported.

Syria, engulfed by war for almost three years, has become the most dangerous country in the world for journalists to work, according to press advocacy groups. Journalists have been targeted for attacks and kidnappings, and have also fallen victim to shelling and gunfire. At least 30 journalists are thought to remain kidnapped inside Syria, free press advocates say. The great majority are believed to be in the hands of rebel groups or criminal gangs.

Press groups, humanitarian organizations and governments have called for the immediate release of all journalists being held in Syria.

Among the kidnapped journalists still believed held inside rebel-held Syria are two other Spaniards: Javier Espinoza, a Beirut-based correspondent for El Mundo newspaper, and Ricardo Garcia Vilanova, a freelance photographer. The two were abducted Sept. 16, 12 days after the now-released Marginedas was kidnapped.


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