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Two months ago, journalists Adem Ozkose and Hamit Coskun were flown to Tehran to do some filming for a documentary. What they did not plan on documenting however, was the captivity they have endured for the past two months.
Ozkose, a reporter and Coskun, a cameraman, both with the magazine Gerçek Hayat and the daily Milat, were waiting for a plane to go home when they were captured on March 10.
“The journalists, as well as some Syrians who were accompanying them, were abducted by militia members known as shabiha at a checkpoint outside a Shiite town in the predominantly Sunni province,” Reporters Without Borders, a non-profit organization which defends the rights of journalists by advocating freedom of the press and the freedom of information, said.
According to the shabiha, they were abducted for illegally entering the country.
In the northwestern city of Idleb, a small Shiite town where the Turks were taken, rebel leaders attempted to negotiate with Syrian authorities for the journalists to be released, but were unsuccessful.
According to the IHH, a Turkish Islamist humanitarian non-governmental organization, it was announced on May 5 “that it had managed to visit the two detained journalists in Damascus. Turgut Alp Boyraz, the head of foreign news at Milat, said they were able to telephone their families on May 5 for the first time since their capture.”
Since the uprising of the Syrian people against President Bashar Assad started 14 months ago, relations between Turkey and Syria have worsened. According to Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Iran is said to have played a crucial role in the release of the prisoners, acting somewhat as a “mediator” between the two countries.
Additionally according to the LA Times, “since the Syrian uprising began last year in March, the country has been a dangerous place for foreign journalists to work. Most are not allowed to enter the nation and those who have received permission are often monitored. As a result, some journalists have sneaked into the country.”
And indeed it has become increasingly dangerous for journalists to report in foreign countries. Since the beginning of this year, six journalists have died as a result of working in a foreign country, including Remi Ochlik and Marie Colvin, who were killed while reporting on a monthlong bombardment of the Baba Amr neighborhood in Homs, according to Reporters Without Borders.
“Their release is a big relief,” the group said regarding the Turkish journalists. “But more than 37 journalists and citizen journalists are still detained in Syria. We must not forget them.”
Both Ozkose and Coskun were reported to be in good health and after being released on Saturday, will soon be reunited with their families.
Image Courtesy of Kodak Agfa