• Spain's news in English

Syria kidnap fears for three Spanish journalists

AFP/The Local · 22 Jul 2015, 09:03

Published: 22 Jul 2015 09:03 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Jose Manuel Lopez, Antonio Pampliega and Angel Sastre entered Syria via southern Turkey on July 10th "and there has been no news of them since July 12th", said Elsa Gonzalez, president of the Federation of Press Associations of Spain.

"In that region there is intense fighting going on, so there is cause for concern," she said, but added: "For the moment we can only call it a disappearance."

Gonzalez did not know whether the three were working together, though Spanish national television station TVE said they were doing a joint investigative report.

Gonzalez told AFP she was informed of the situation by Spanish government officials.

"They cannot yet conclude that they have been kidnapped," she said.

The journalists' families called for "respect" and "the greatest possible discretion" in the case, in a statement quoted by various Spanish media.

Spain's foreign minister confirmed on Wednesday that Madrid is "fully active" in the search for the missing newsmen.

"Since hearing the news, we have been fully active" working to track down the three men, Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo said during a public appearance in Madrid in comments quoted by Spanish media.

Garcia-Margallo said no demands had yet been received from any apparent
kidnappers and that his ministry was in "permanent contact" with  its embassy in Turkey which was leading efforts to track down the men.

He said he had been in contact with various embassies and United Nations representatives in Spain as well as Spanish intelligence sources in Syria.

"I would ask that we proceed with discretion and respect" for those missing, he said.

The three journalists had worked recently for various media including Spanish newspapers La Razon and ABC, which was the first on Tuesday to report their disappearance.

Pampliega, a freelance war journalist born in 1982, contributed to AFP's text coverage of the civil war in Syria for a period up to 2013. He has also worked in countries such as Afghanistan, Irak, and Pakistan.

Lopez, born in 1971, is a prize-winning photographer who contributed images to AFP from several war zones, including from the Syrian conflict up until 2013.

According to data on the website of the Madrid Press Association, Sastre, 35, has worked in various trouble spots around the world for Spanish television, radio and press.

Dangers for media in Syria

Media rights group Reporters Without Borders ranks Syria as the most dangerous country in the world for journalists. It says at least 44 journalists have been killed there since the conflict broke out in 2011.

In August 2014, the jihadist group Islamic State decapitated US journalist James Foley, who was seized in northern Syria in 2012.

Three other Spanish journalists were kidnapped in 2013 while covering the conflict in Syria, where various armed factions are battling President Bashar Al-Assad's regime and each other.

El Mundo correspondent Javier Espinosa and freelance photographer Ricardo Garcia Vilanova were held by IS for about six months and freed in March 2014.

Earlier that same month another Spanish journalist, Marc Marginedas, a correspondent for the Catalan daily El Periodico, was also released after months in the hands of IS in Syria.

Espinosa said he and Vilanova were held along with 21 others including Foley in an industrial complex north of Aleppo.

Espinosa wrote in El Mundo that IS extremists staged mock executions of their Western captives.

Story continues below…

Devastated Aleppo

Syria's conflict, which began in 2011 with anti-government protests, has degenerated into a civil war that has killed more than 230,000 people and displaced millions.

In the latest of countless massacres, on Tuesday a missile fired by Syrian forces killed at least 18 civilians in a residential neighbourhood of Aleppo, a monitoring group said.

Once Syria's commercial hub, Aleppo is divided between rebel groups entrenched in the east and government troops in the western neighbourhoods.

It has suffered devastating damage as each side tries to dislodge the other.   

Rights groups have criticised both sides for indiscriminate attacks on civilians. In June 2014 Islamic State militants declared an "Islamic Caliphate" across territory they have seized in Iraq and Syria.

For more news from Spain, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.es)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Spain faces crucial week as conservatives re-take power
Mariano Rajoy hopes to form a government this week. Photo: AFP

Spain entered a crucial week on Monday as acting conservative Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy prepared to re-take power, ending ten rollercoaster months without government marked by hope and disillusion.

Eight very creepy Halloween costumes ideas from Spain
Photo: Pan's Labyrinth

Forget flamenco dancers and bullfighters, The Local counts down the freakiest alternative costume ideas to dress up in this Halloween.

Man attacked by racist thug in UK street for talking Spanish

Tomas Gil, 27, from Valencia in eastern Spain was talking to his girlfriend in their native language after a night out in the British seaside town of Poole when he was set upon by a racist thug.

Malaga: Police probe bizarre 'sex death' of homeless Brit
The man was found near Malaga airport. Photo: Dennis Howlett / Flickr

A British homeless man was found dead tied to a bench near Malaga airport with his trousers down and his genitals in a can of tuna.

Clock ticking as Spain races to avoid third elections
Third elections could now be avoided. Photo: AFP

Spain's Socialists voted on Sunday to allow the conservatives to take power, likely averting a third election for Spaniards tired of going to the polls.

Spain worries about tourism future
Photo: Josep Lago / AFP file picture

After basking in its best tourist summer season in 15 years, Spain now sees dark clouds on the horizon as popular destinations reach saturation point and holidaymakers are more thrifty, industry experts say.

Spain's Socialists lift veto on Rajoy to break deadlock
The Socialists have decided to lift their veto on the minority conservative government or not. Photo: Gerard Julien/ AFP

Spain's embattled Socialists on Sunday voted to lift a long-standing veto that has prevented the conservatives from forming a minority government, in what should finally end a ten-month political impasse.

Spain's 'Napflix' aims to bore viewers to sleep
Photo: Screengrab/ Napflix

A Spanish video platform called Napflix, designed to put people to sleep with dull content, was launched this week and its founders are on the lookout for more "monotony and repetition."

Recipe: How to make fabada - traditional Asturian bean stew
Photo: Flavio Lorenzo Sánchez/Flickr

The hearty Asturian dish is a perfect lunch on a cold day... and don't forget the crusty bread and cider!

Brit 'paedo' held on Costa del Sol after Most Wanted appeal

One of Britain's most wanted fugitives was arrested on the Costa Del Sol following a tip-off from an expat just hours after his face appeared on a public appeal.

Spanish 'La Mafia' restaurants banned after Italian complaint
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Spain's top court overturns bullfighting ban in Catalonia
Hunt launched for ten most wanted Brit fugitives hiding out in Spain
Napflix: Spaniards launch very boring TV channel for siestas
Madrid parish church faces fine over 'too noisy' bells
Celebrate expat life at Madrid’s THRIVE convention
Fury after kids told to bring their own loo roll to school
Disney announces plans for Don Quixote action movie
Activist tells 8-yr-old matador wannabe with cancer 'just die'
King to make last minute push to avoid third vote in Spain
Amazing photos of Catalonia's 'human tower' contest
What's on in Spain: October 2016
'No way, Jose! You'll never get your hands on our Rock'
Recipe: How to make a classic Spanish tortilla de patatas
Chorizo in paella? Go back to cooking school Jamie Oliver
Spain in eye of a perfect storm after 10 months without govt
Thousands share clips of life for 'Spain in a Day' film
Ten incredible Spain locations for Game of Thrones season 7
Analysis & Opinion
Why moving to Spain could be the best decision of your life
Seven reasons why autumn is the very best season in Spain
Spanish study finds four types of personality. Which are you?
New search underway for civil war grave of poet Lorca
Bison found decapitated on Valencia nature reserve
jobs available