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SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom - Samir Kassir Foundation

Renewed calls for action on journalist abducted in Syria

Monday , 22 October 2018
Lebanon should coordinate with European governments to look into the fate of missing Lebanese journalist Samir Kassab, the director of a media freedom NGO said Sunday, five years after Kassab was kidnapped in Syria.
“Lebanon needs to talk with European governments who were able to free journalists from their countries who were kidnapped by Daesh [ISIS],” Ayman Mhanna, director of the SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom, told The Daily Star.
“France, Denmark and Spain were all able to [do this], so Lebanon needs to talk to them.”
Mhanna called on political forces that took over territory previously occupied by Daesh in Syria to look for any signs of Kassab.
The journalist was kidnapped on Oct. 14, 2013, along with his Mauritanian Sky News colleague Ishak Moctar and a Syrian driver, while on a routine trip.
Having taken a route from southern Turkey, they had planned to stay only two nights to cover the Eid al-Adha festivities in Aleppo.
To commemorate the anniversary of his disappearance, Batroun’s Hardin and Beit Kassab Municipality hosted a meeting of Kassab’s loved ones to call on the government and other authorities to take action.
“Unfortunately, there is nothing new and as long as there is no evidence that he is dead, the Lebanese government needs to have a clear policy [to find out his fate],” Mhanna said.
Despite allegations that the government has done nothing to follow up on the case, a source from the presidential palace said that the government has conducted investigations and continues to do so.
The source said that President Michel Aoun and caretaker Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil have both tried to uncover details.
“There is no one we did not speak to or ask international organizations, Turkey, the United States, Syria and most recently Russia,” the source said, adding that Aoun asked officials at last year’s United Nations General Assembly for help as well. “But we have received no answers or signals as to whether or not he is alive or dead. It is the same with the missing bishops,” the source added.
Aleppo’s Greek Orthodox Archbishop Paul Yazigi and Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Yohanna Ibrahim were abducted in April 2013 by gunmen while en route to the northern Syrian city from the Turkish border.
At the time of the kidnapping, Syrian state-run SANA news agency said the bishops were dragged from their car by “terrorists” after carrying out humanitarian work in the village of Kfour Dael in the Aleppo province.

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