Sayeed Muhammad of DOT
A Japanese freelance journalist held hostage by militants in northern Syria for three years has been released and has confirmed he is safe and well and may be brought back home soon.
In a video sent from the Turkish border, Jumpei Yasuda, a 44-year-old freelancer, spoke in English and gave his name, confirming he had been held hostage for 40 months, reports BBC.
His wife Myu, who campaigned for his release, was appearing live on Japanese TV when the news was announced.
Yasuda had previously also held hostage during the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2004. The Japanese had been released then after a several days.
He went missing in June 2015 after travelling from Turkey to Syria to report on the country’s civil war.
He was reportedly held by the al-Qaeda-linked group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, which was once known as al-Nusra Front.
“I have been held in Syria for 40 months, now in Turkey. Now I’m in safe condition. Thank you very much,” Yasuda said in the video from an immigration centre in the Turkish city of Antakya.
Japanese diplomats had travelled there to confirm his identity.
His wife was reduced to tears on hearing the news and said “thank you… thank you for praying for him and taking action”.
Yasuda is expected to head home to Japan soon.
Four months ago, a video that appeared to show him speaking in October 2017 was broadcast by a Japanese TV channel. “I hope all of my family is fine,” he said. “I want to see you.”
The Japan Times reported that the group had demanded a $10m for Yasuda’s release.
But Japan’s chief cabinet secretary denied any money had changed hands. “That kind of thing never happened,” Yoshihide Suga told reporters.