Picture shows captured Turkish journalist in Syria alive

A Turkish relief agency trying to secure the release of a Turkish journalist captured by government troops in Syria has obtained a photograph showing him in apparent good health.

Cuneyt Unal, who works for the U.S.-funded al-Hurra television channel, went missing with Jordanian colleague Bashar Fahmi shortly after crossing into Syria from Turkey on August 20.

Unal appeared in an interview with a Syrian pro-government television channel several days later, in which he described his capture by Syrian soldiers in the city of Aleppo, but there has been no news of him since.

IHH, a Turkish Islamic humanitarian agency, posted a picture of Unal on its website late on Saturday. It said the photograph was obtained by one of its delegations currently in Damascus trying to secure the release of detained civilians.

The picture, which has a date stamp of October 24, shows Unal unshaven and thinner Unal but in apparent good health, and bruising under his eyes seen in the August video has now gone.

The IHH delegation, which has been in Damascus for the past week, did not appear to have seen Unal themselves but were allowed to visit civilians, including women and children, inside one prison, according to a statement on the group’s website.

IHH said it was still trying to confirm the status of Unal’s colleague Fahmi, who was reportedly wounded in Syria and has not been seen or heard from since the men went missing. A Japanese journalist who entered Syria with the two men was later killed in Aleppo by pro-Assad militiamen.

IHH, better known as the owner of the Mavi Marmara aid ship to Gaza which was intercepted by Israeli commandos in 2010 with the deaths of nine people aboard, helped negotiate the release of two Turkish journalists from Syria earlier this year.

Some 20 journalists have been killed in Syria since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began in March 2011.

Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders said Ukrainian journalist Ankhar Kochneva was abducted on October 9, apparently by a rebel faction. American freelance journalist Austin Tice has been missing since August 13.

Source: Reuters

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