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Italian journalist freed after five months in captivity in Syria

Italian journalist Domenico Quirico, left, is welcomed by Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino, right, as he arrives at the military airport in Italy from Syria, early on 9 September 2013
Italian journalist Domenico Quirico, left, is welcomed by Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino, right, as he arrives at the military airport in Italy from Syria, early on 9 September 2013

AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) have today welcomed the release of Italian journalist Domenico Quirico and thanked their affiliate, the National Federation of the Italian Press (FNSI), for its tireless work and commitment in helping to secure his freedom.

Quirico, who was kidnapped in Syria in early April, was released yesterday, Sunday 9 September, along with Belgian teacher Pierre Piccinin da Pratia. The two men, who were reportedly together when they were taken, were flown to Rome where they met with Italy's foreign minister. According to reports, Quricio is tired but in good health and will be reunited with his family later today.

"We welcome the fantastic news that Domenici Quirico has been released after being held in Syria for nearly five months and can now return to his family, loved ones and colleagues," said IFJ President Jim Boumelha.

"On this day of great relief and joy we congratulate our affiliate, the FNSI, and thank them for their dedication and unwavering commitment in helping to secure the safe return of their highly respected colleague."

Quirico, 62, an experienced war correspondent for Turin's La Stampa newspaper, was kidnapped after he entered Syria from Lebanon at the beginning of April to report on the country's civil war. He had spoken by phone to his wife in June confirming he had been kidnapped but was in good health.

In a statement today, FNSI General Secretary, Franco Siddi, said Quirico's liberation was "great news" and a relief for his family and colleagues, calling it a triumph and "sign of hope" for everyone who worked for his release.

Watch Franco Siddi's interview on Sky http://video.sky.it/news/mondo/siria_liberato_domenico_quirico_intervista_a_franco_siddi/v170507.vid" target="_blank">here.

The IFJ and the EFJ, along with the FNSI, have made repeated calls for Quirico's release over the past five months. In May, the IFJ and the FSNI wrote to the President of Syria (24.5.13), appealing for him to make every effort to find Quirico.

At its general meeting in May, the EFJ adopted a resolution, proposed by the FNSI, expressing "its deep concern for the fate of Domenico Quirico," while in June the IFJ World Congress adopted an urgent motion, proposed by FNSI and four other affiliates, demanding the immediate release of Quirico and all other colleagues covering the events in Syria.

"The release of Domenico Quirico is a 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 urge all the factions involved in the Syrian conflict to respect press freedom and to release the other journalists and return them to their countries."

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
What other IFEX members are saying
Case history

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