Press Release - via IFJ/EFJ
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) have praised the tireless efforts of their affiliate, the Swedish Union of Journalists (Svenska Journalistförbundet, SJF), in helping to secure the release of two Swedish journalists who had been held in Syria since last November.
According to media reports, Magnus Falkehed, a Paris based reporter for Swedish daily newspaper Dagens Nyheter, and freelance photographer, Niclas Hammarström, were freed separately over the course of the last few days. One of the men was freed on Saturday while the other was transported from the Lebanese border town of Arsal to Beirut on Wednesday.
"We welcome the fantastic news that these journalists have been released and can now return to their family, loved ones and colleagues," said IFJ President Jim Boumelha. "On this day of great relief and joy we congratulate our affiliate, the Swedish Union of Journalists, and thank them for their dedication and unwavering commitment in helping to secure the safe return of their colleagues."
The two journalists were abducted by unknown assailants on November 23 as they were trying to leave the country. The IFJ/EFJ issued a statement appealing for their safe and immediate return (26.11.13).
Jonas Nordling, President of the Swedish Union of Journalists, said it was "extremely satisfying that Magnus and Niclas have been released." He sent his thoughts to the journalists' families, and said he hopes they can reunite as soon as possible.
While welcoming the journalists' release, the IFJ/EFJ have issued a stark reminder that many other local and international journalists are still being targeted in Syria. Since the country's uprising in March 2011, 30 Syrian and international journalists have been kidnapped and many are still being held.
According to the IFJ's List of Journalists and Media Killed in 2013, Syria was the most dangerous country in the world for journalists, with 15 media workers killed there last year.
"The release of these Swedish journalists represents a further positive step forward in the struggle for press freedom, justice and the right of journalists to work freely and safely in Syria," said EFJ President Mogens Blicher-Bjerregård.
"But there are a number of other cases of international journalists who are still being held there. We appeal to all the factions involved in the Syrian conflict to respect press freedom and to release the other journalists being held and return them to their countries."
For more information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 17
The IFJ represents more than 600.000 journalists in 134 countries