Three Spanish journalists were freed Saturday, 10 months after disappearing in a suspected kidnapping in Syria last year. The reporters – Antonio Pampliega, Jose Manuel Lopez and Angel Sastre – had disappeared while reporting near the city of Aleppo just days after their arrival in July 2015.
“All three are well,” a Spanish government spokeswoman told Agence France-Presse, in a statement that came “a few hours” after Spain learned the news. Elsa Gonzalez, president of the Spanish Press Federation, said that all three reporters had been released and were on their way back to Spain.
Pic shows the three journalists released by al Nusra today: Antonio Pampliega, José Manuel López and Ángel Sastre pic.twitter.com/FsEa0k0nIl
— Pashtun Cat (@__PashCat__) May 7, 2016
Spain's government thanked Turkey and Qatar for assistance in getting the three journalists released, involvement that was confirmed by Qatar's state news agency.
Syria tops the list of the world's most dangerous places for reporters. In 2014, the Islamic State group posted video of the beheading of American journalist James Foley. In 2015 at least 10 reporters died in Syria, according to Reporters Without Borders.
Three other Spanish journalists working in Syria were kidnapped by ISIS in 2013. They were released later that year.
Spanish media have reported that the trio freed Saturday had been held by the Nusra Front, al Qaeda's Syrian wing. Qatar has previously brokered deals to release prisoners from the group, which is designated a terrorist organization by the U.S.
Two of the reporters, Lopez and Pampliega, had previously worked for AFP, contributing to the international news agency's conflict coverage in the Middle East. Sastre reported for various Spanish television, radio and press outlets.
In Sastre's final post to Twitter before disappearing last July, the reporter wrote the word “courage” in Spanish, English and Arabic.