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Japanese Journalist, Held Hostage in Syria, Heads Home after 40 Months

Posted in World

Published on October 28, 2018 with No Comments

Jumpei Yasuda, a 44-year-old freelance journalist who was reported to have been captured by an al Qaeda affiliate after entering Syria from Turkey in 2015, was released a day earlier after three years in captivity.

Japanese diplomats in Turkey earlier confirmed that the released man was Yasuda, and Japan’s foreign minister said the journalist would be brought home as soon as possible. Speaking to media  on board a flight from Antakya in southern Turkey en route to Istanbul, from where he flew back to Tokyo, Yasuda said he did not know what the future held for him. “I am happy that I can return to Japan. At the same time, I don’t know what will happen from here or what I should do,” he said. “I am thinking about what I need to do.”

In an earlier video released by Turkish officials, Yasuda gave thanks for his freedom and said he was safe. “My name is Jumpei Yasuda, Japanese journalist. I have been held in Syria for 40 months, now in Turkey. Now I’m in safe condition. Thank you very much,” a bearded Yasuda said. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had earlier voiced relief, while still waiting for confirmation of the identity of the freed man. Both Abe and Foreign Minister Taro Kono thanked Qatar and Turkey for their cooperation in freeing the man. A government spokesman said that no ransom was paid for Yasuda’s release.

Yasudo’s three years in captivity were not the first time he had been detained in the Middle East. He was held in Baghdad in 2004 and drew criticism at home for drawing the government into negotiations for his release. In Tokyo, Yasuda’s parents spoke to reporters outside their house.

 

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