Middle East

Turkish journalists protest detention of colleagues in Syria

More than 100 Turkish journalists protest in front of the Syrian Embassy in Ankara on August 31, 2012, to demand the release of two Turkish reporters, cameraman Cuneyt Unal and TV correspondent Bashar Fahmi, reportedly being held by the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. (AFP PHOTO / ADEM ALTAN)

ANKARA: More than 100 Turkish journalists on Friday staged a protest to demand the release of two Turkish reporters reportedly being held by the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Gathering in front of the Syrian embassay in Ankara, protestors unfurled banners reading "Syria, give our colleagues back," "Don't kill journalists," and "Journalist is not the target."

Turkish cameraman Cuneyt Unal and his colleague Bashar Fahmi, who both work for the US-funded al-Hurra network, have been missing in Syria for 11 days and are reportedly being held by government troops.

Turkish media on Monday aired a video of Unal that was broadcast by Syria's al-Ikhbariya news channel in recent days, in which he says that he crossed into Aleppo together with armed groups from Chechnya, Libya, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

In the video, Unal appeared exhausting and nervous, with bruises under both eyes.

The two missing journalists' families also joined the protest in Ankara.

"My husband has been to Syria for only journalism reasons," Cuneyt's wife Nuran said. "I want my husband back."

Bashar's wife Arzu desperately said: "My children have been asking for 11 days if their father will get back. I have no answer to give them."

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Monday Unal was in Syria for purely journalism reasons and stressed that "the Syrian state is responsible for his well-being."

Ten journalists have been killed since the Syria uprising began in March 2011, including five foreigners, according to the advocacy group Reporters Without Borders.





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