Home Breaking News Syria: Spanish journalists released by ISIS rebels after six months

Syria: Spanish journalists released by ISIS rebels after six months


Spanish journalists Javier Espinosa and Ricardo Garcia Vilanova – kidnapped in Syria six months ago by radical Islamist rebels – have been released.

Spanish newspaper El Mundo said its Middle East correspondent, Javier Espinosa, had phoned the newsroom to say that he had been freed along with photographer Ricardo Garcia Vilanova.

Javier Espinosa said they had been handed over to Turkish soldiers.

Scores of journalists are believed to have been kidnapped or killed by rebel fighters in Syria.

Javier Espinosa and Ricardo Garcia Vilanova were seized by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) near the Turkish border in September 2013.

Javier Espinosa and Ricardo Garcia Vilanova were seized by the ISIS rebels near the Turkish border in September 2013

Javier Espinosa and Ricardo Garcia Vilanova were seized by the ISIS rebels near the Turkish border in September 2013

El Mundo said at the time the two journalists had been trying to leave Syria at the end of a two-week reporting mission when they were taken.

Four members of the Free Syrian Army – the main Western-backed rebel group – who were protecting them were also captured but later released.

The Spanish daily said the kidnapping was initially kept quiet at the request of the men’s families.

Many kidnappings have been played down in the hope of aiding negotiations.

The journalists are expected back in Madrid on Sunday, El Mundo said.

In December, 13 major international news organizations signed a letterurging Syrian rebel groups to stop kidnapping journalists, and to free those who are currently held.

Correspondents say ISIS assumes that all foreign journalists and aid workers in Syria are spies and has issued orders to arrest them.

The high risk of kidnapping has made many rebel-held areas of Syria no-go areas for most foreign journalists.

The Free Syrian Army’s political wing – the Syrian National Coalition – says it is committed to protecting journalists, and securing the release of hostages.

Javier Espinosa has been a Middle East correspondent for El Mundo since 2002 and is based in Beirut.


Ricardo Garcia Vilanova has worked for various news outlets including the New York Times, the Washington Post and the AFP news agency.

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Roy likes politics. Knowledge is power, Roy constantly says, so he spends nearly all day gathering information and writing articles about the latest events around the globe. He likes history and studying about war techniques, this is why he finds writing his articles a piece of cake. Another hobby of his is horse – riding.