ARA News

Urfa, Turkey– The Qaeda splinter group of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) released on Saturday two Spanish journalists whom it detained for more than six months in Raqqa province, north of Syria. 

Members of ISIL released Javier Espinosa, the correspondent of the El Mundo Newspaper in the Middle East, and the freelance photographer Ricardo Vilanova after being kidnapped by the ISIL on the 16th of September 2013, at the border crossing near Tel Abyad city north of Raqqa, while they were trying to cover Syria war.

The El Mundo Newspaper reported that both Spanish journalists have been delivered to a Turkish airport after being handed over by ISIL to the Turkish border guards.  

For her part, Malén Aznárez, the president of the Spanish chapter of Reporters without Borders, confirmed that Espinosa and Vilanova “are in good health”.

“We waited for months to hear the news of their release, and it ended the best way we could wish,”Aznárez stressed. “The families of Espinosa and Vilanova are overwhelmed with happiness.”  

Earlier in March, the Spanish journalist Marc Marginedas, who was kidnapped together with Espinosa and Vilanova, was also released by the ISIL.

García Vilanova, born in Barcelona Spain 1972, is a photojournalist who has covered a large number of world conflicts for various international media outlets.

While Javier Espinosa has been the correspondent of the El Mundo Newspaper in the Middle East since 2002, first from Jerusalem and afterwards from Beirut. Espinosa has covered the news about the second Palestinian Intifada, Iraq since 2003 and the Arab Spring since 2011 among other conflicts. At the end of February 2012, he was trapped by Syrian regime forces shelling in Homs city, but was able to escape days after.

 Notably, the Qaeda splinter group of the ISIL holds in its detention centers many local activists and Syrian, Arab and foreign journalists on the background of their coverage of the war in Syria and in areas which fall under the ISIL control. Reportedly, some of them (those detained by ISIL) have been executed by ISIL members or killed during clashes between the group and fighters of the armed opposition in the last few months, especially in areas of Idlib and Aleppo.


Reporting by: Ridwan Bizar

Source: ARA News


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