Lebanon News

Two Swedish journalists missing in Syria freed: envoy

Lebanese seen in Arsal, Wednesday, April 3, 2013. (The Daily Star/Stringer)

BEIRUT: Two Swedish journalists reported missing in Syria in November have been freed, Sweden's ambassador to Syria and Lebanon told AFP on Wednesday.

"The two journalists have been freed," ambassador Niklas Kebbon said.

Diplomatic sources said one of the men was freed on Saturday.

The International Committee for the Red Cross said it transported the other from the Lebanese border town of Arsal to Beirut on Wednesday.

"A Swedish journalist missing in Syria since November was transferred today from Arsal to our offices in Beirut," ICRC spokeswoman Claire Kaplun told AFP.

"He was handed over to the Swedish ambassador," she added.

The two men were reported missing on November 25, when the Swedish foreign ministry said the pair appeared to have been kidnapped.

A ministry spokeswoman said at the time that the pair, a reporter and a photographer, went missing as they were leaving Syria.

Swedish media named the journalists as photographer Niclas Hammarstroem and reporter Magnus Falkehed, both 45.

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt welcomed their release on Twitter.

"Great relief that the two Swedish journalists are out of Syria. But unfortunately there are still others held against their will," he wrote.

A friend, Erik Aasheim told Swedish press agency TT that the men were in good shape.

Dozens of journalists have gone missing in Syria since the conflict began in March 2011, with both regime supporters and opponents accused of abductions.

Syria is the deadliest place in the world for journalists, according to media watchdogs.

Reporters Without Borders says at least 27 journalists have been killed in the country since the conflict began.





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