Reporters Without Borders has learned with “immense relief and great joy” that four French journalists who had been held in northern Syria by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) since June 2013 – Didier François, Edouard Elias, Nicolas Hénin and Pierre Torres – were released at the Turkish border last night.
“To say we are delighted by their release is an understatement,” said Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire. “It is deeply satisfying to now know with certainty that the support committee's optimism was not unfounded and that the four hostages have recovered what they should never have lost – their freedom"
“The optimism did not of course prevent concern. The families, colleagues and friends were confident that the hostages would be eventually be released but no one knew when and after how many more months in captivity. Would the Islamist group holding them decide to keep them under its control until the end of this terrible conflict in Syria? It was a possibility. Could the worst take place? In this sort of case, only the definitive release of the hostages and their return to a safe place can end the anxiety.”
Reporters Without Borders pays tribute to the efforts of their families, their colleagues, the support committee led by French journalists Florence Aubenas, Serge July and Karen Lajon and all those who, like RWB, defend freedom of information.
“Our thoughts go out to all the other journalists still held hostage in Syria and to the more than 100 news providers who have lost their lives covering the Syrian conflict,” Deloire added.
Nine foreign journalists and more than 20 Syrian news providers are still held hostage or are missing in Syria, while around 40 Syrian journalists and citizen-journalists are being held by the government.