Turkish journalist missing for months in Syria freed

AFP , Saturday 17 Nov 2012

Syrian government frees a Turkish journalists that was detained by forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad in August

A Turkish journalist held by Syrian government troops since August was freed Saturday and handed to a group of Turkish opposition lawmakers following their meeting with President Bashar al-Assad, media reported.

"I am very happy, I am doing well," Cuneyt Unal told a press conference in Damascus, a recording of which was aired on Turkish television.

"I can't wait to get back to my family in Turkey."

Unal was handed to a delegation of MPs from Turkey's main opposition party CHP in Damascus after the lawmakers met with Assad, the Anatolia news agency reported.

One of them, Hasan Akgol, told the agency that Unal was in good health and that the group was due to return to Turkey later in the day.

Cameraman Unal and his Jordanian colleague Bashar Fahmi al-Kadumi, who were working for US broadcaster Al-Hurra, disappeared in the northern city of Aleppo on August 20.

Unal said Saturday that he had been detained by Syrian soldiers on that day and held in solitary confinement in an Aleppo prison but that he was not mistreated during his ordeal.

He said his colleague was seriously wounded on August 20 after being caught in the crossfire between government troops and rebels.

"I haven't seen him since," Unal said. "I don't know if he is still alive."

The Turkish lawmakers said they had not been given any information on Kadumi, a Jordanian national of Palestinian origin who was based in Turkey.

Fourteen professional journalists have been killed in Syria since the conflict started there last year. Another 38 citizen journalists have also been killed, according to the international media watchdog Reporters Without Borders.

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