Spanish Photographer and Reporter Abducted by Al-Qaeda Affliliate in Syria
Freelance photographer Ricardo Garcia Vilanova and reporter Javier Espinosa of El Mundo were abducted in Syria on September 16, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. The families of the journalists made the news of their capture public today. According to CPJ, they were abducted at gunpoint at a checkpoint near tal-Abyad in northern Syria and taken to a detention center run by the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham, an Al-Qaeda affiliate that has been operating in Syria amidst fighting between the Syrian Army and rebels opposed to the rule of President Bashar al-Assad.
Vilanova has been covering the conflict in Syria for over a year; his photos have been published by CNN Photos and Al Jazeera. At the time of their abduction, Vilanova and Espinosa were accompanied by four soldiers of the Free Syrian Army, a rebel group; the soldiers were released two weeks after they were captured alongside the journalists.
CPJ ranks Syria as the most dangerous country in the world for journalists. Since the uprising began, numerous journalists have been abducted or murdered.