BBG welcomes Syrian release of Alhurra cameraman Cüneyt Ünal, but reporter Bashar Fahmi still missing (updated).

Posted: 29 Nov 2012   Print   Send a link
Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 17 Nov 2012: "The Broadcasting Board of Governors welcomed the news that the Syrian government released cameraman Cüneyt Ünal today. He and Alhurra correspondent Bashar Fahmi were captured while reporting from Aleppo, Syria 90 days ago. Ünal joined a delegation of Turkish parliamentarians and media organization representatives who had traveled to Damascus to secure the two journalists’ release. 'We are relieved that Cüneyt will be reunited safely with his family,' said Michael Meehan, a member of the BBG Board and Chairman of the Middle East Broadcasting Networks, Inc. 'The lack of information on Bashar Fahmi is profoundly troubling.'"

AP, 17 Nov 2012, Susan Fraser: "Unal said he had been held locked up alone in a prison cell in Aleppo for the past three months, living on “bread and potatoes,” but was not ill-treated. His captors even took him to hospital for treatment when he became ill, he told NTV television."

Hürriyet Daily News, 19 Nov 2012: "Turkish journalist Cüneyt Ünal’s handover to Turkey after three months in a Syrian prison opens a rift between ruling party officials and main opposition party lawmakers. Ünal entered Turkey from Hatay’s Yayladagi border gate, which is close to the Syrian city of Latakia, with Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmakers, and went to Ankara to meet his family. ... In laying out his position, AKP spokesman Hüseyin Çelik described the development as 'meaningful.' 'It’s meaningful that Ünal was handed over to a CHP delegation instead of Turkish authorities or an NGO. Everybody knows that the CHP lends it support to al-Assad and CHP members carry al-Assad posters in demonstrations while they are shouting no to war.' CHP leader Kemal Kiliçdaroglu, in response, slammed Çelik, saying that he would send his lawmakers anywhere in the world to rescue 'his people.'"

Xinhua, 18 Nov 2012: "The Syrian authorities released at early hours Saturday a Turkish journalist, who had entered Syria illegally through Turkey and was later captured in the northern province of Aleppo. Guneyt Unal, who works for al-Hurra Palestine TV, was captured three months ago in Aleppo, after entering Syria illegally to cover the conflict there. Unal, a cameraman, was in the company of Bashar Qaddoumy, a reporter for al-Hurra TV. He was captured by locals in Aleppo and handed over to the Syrian army. ... Turkey has been playing an important role in the 20-months-old crisis in Syria, offering safe havens to rebels and using its territory as a route for all those who aim to sneak into Syria to fight against the Syrian administration of President Bashar al-Assad."

Update: Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 27 Nov 2012: "The Broadcasting Board of Governors renewed its call for the release of Alhurra correspondent Bashar Fahmi, last seen in Syria 100 days ago. Fahmi disappeared in Aleppo along with cameraman Cüneyt Ünal, who was released after 90 days in captivity. ... 'While the safe release of Cüneyt this month is very encouraging, we remain deeply troubled by the absolute silence about Bashar,' said Michael Meehan, a member of the BBG Board and Chairman of the Middle East Broadcasting Networks, Inc. There has been no official acknowledgement of Fahmi’s status."