Photo: Kidnapped journliasts
Javier Espinosa and Ricardo Garcia Vilanova, Spanish reporters with the daily El Mundo kidnapped in Syria last September, have been released.
Espinosa confirmed the release in a telephone call to his colleagues at the paper at 9:27 p.m. on Saturday.
El Mundo reported on its Web site that on Saturday evening a contingent of Turkish soldiers picked up the pair at a spot on the Syrian border from where they were transferred to an airport in Turkey.
Espinosa called the paper and said, “‘This is Espinosa,’ with an unhurried voice, the same voice as always, as if - instead of six months - only a few days had gone by,” El Mundo said.
The reporter instructed a female colleague to write down a telephone number so that she could return his call, something that was done minutes later after Espinosa’s wife Monica was given the news, as he had requested.
Espinosa and freelance photojournalist Ricardo Garcia Vilanova were captured on Sept. 16, 2013, as they were trying to leave Syria after spending two weeks reporting on the civil war there.
Their abduction was made public later at a huge press conference at which the then-director of El Mundo, Pedro J. Ramirez, said that Espinosa had last contacted the paper a few hours before he was kidnapped.
That was at the Tal Abyad checkpoint located in Raqqa province a few kilometers (miles) from the Turkish border, where the pair were kidnapped along with four fighters with Ahfad al Mountapha - one of the brigades of the Free Syrian Army - who had offered them protection. Those four men were released 12 days later.
The release two weeks ago of Marc Marginedas, the special correspondent of El Periodico de Catalunya, filled the families and friends of Espinosa and Garcia Vilanova with hope and encouragement.
The two journalists were held by their captors for 194 days.