SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom - Samir Kassir Foundation

Samir Kassab, the Hostage

Tuesday , 24 November 2015

“It is not fair that we have not received any information on Samir Kassab from our government over the last two years,” said Razan Hamdan, Kassab’s fiancée, during a solidarity gathering in front of the Ministry of Information on November 12.Lebanese cameraman Samir Kassab was kidnapped in northern Syria with his Sky News colleague Isaac Moctar on October 13, 2013. Through the gathering, his family and supporters wanted to attract media attention to Kassab’s case and urge the Lebanese government to display more serious efforts to secure his release.

“It is really important that we attract as much media attention as possible as many seem to have forgotten about Samir Kassab,” Razan explained to journalists who were covering the sit-in. “In this country you need to convince the government to do more, while in other countries, the government themselves offers to help release the hostages,” she added.

Although they suffer from the lack of help and information from the Lebanese government, his relatives have not given up hope that he will be released. “We know that he is alive from Nicolas Hénin, because he was his cell neighbor in custody.” Razan said.Nicolas Hénin, a French journalist, was liberated from captivity  in Syria on April 20, 2014, after being held hostage for 10 months. “However, since then we have only heard rumors.”  

“We have been following the case of Samir Kassab very closely since the beginning,” said Ayman Mhanna, executive director of SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom. “We try to be supportive wherever we can and put the family in contact with families who have been through the same experience.”

Repression, arbitrary detention, and the forced exile of journalists were common practice in Syria before crisis; the onset of civil war in March 2011 has made the situation even more dangerous for media professionals.Syria is today the most dangerous place on earth for local and international journalists to operate. The risk of abduction is higher than in any other country in the world. Since march 2011, more than 85 journalists have been killed and at least 10 still taken hostage.

“That your beloved one is taken hostage by fighters is the worst thing you can imagine. I do not wish this to anyone, not even my worst enemies,” Razan said.“As long as we do not have any official statement about what happened to Samir Kassab, we will assume that he is alive and therefore sustain our efforts to create media attention for his case,” Mhanna added.Although Hassan Falha, Director General of the Ministry of Information, promised that the government will do whatever it can to secure the release of Samir Kassab, Razan is not assured yet.“We will continue to organize media activities like this one in order to generate more attention to Samir’s case and maintain the pressure on the government to do more to bring him home safely,” she concluded.

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