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U.S. Journalist Released From Syria Captivity

  • RFE/RL

The United States has confirmed that a kidnapped American journalist in Syria had been released.

Secretary of State John Kerry said on August 24 that Theo Curtis had been held by the Al-Qaeda-linked militant group Al-Nusra, which is fighting the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The journalist is thought to have been kidnapped in Turkey near Syria’s border in 2012.

Kerry said Washington had worked with more than two dozen countries to help secure his release.

He added that Washington was using “every diplomatic, intelligence, and military tool” at its disposal to secure the release of other U.S. citizens who are held hostage in Syria by militant groups or Syrian government forces.

The White House said President Barack Obama "shares in the joy and relief that we all feel now that Theo is out of Syria and safe."

"We will continue to use all of the tools at our disposal to see that the remaining American hostages are freed," the statement added.

The United Nations said Curtis was handed over to UN peacekeepers in the Golan Heights and, after undergoing a medical checkup, turned over to U.S. representatives.

Curtis's release comes days after militants from the Islamic State released a video showing the beheading in Syria of U.S. journalist James Foley, who was also seized in 2012.

Britain’s secret services are reportedly close to identifying a suspected British citizen thought to have beheaded Foley.

British newspapers reported on August 24 that investigators were focusing on several British jihadis thought to be in Syria’s Raqqa area.

Peter Westmacott, Britain’s ambassador in Washington, said British authorities were using sophisticated technology -- including voice-recognition software -- to identify the masked, knife-wielding man who appeared in the video of Foley’s death and spoke English with a London accent.

Westmacott’s remarks came hours before an August 24 memorial service in Foley’s hometown of Rochester, New Hampshire.

Meanwhile, German media reported the release of a 27-year-old German citizen who was kidnapped in Syria in 2013.

The "Welt am Sonntag" newspaper said on August 24 that a "substantial consideration" was made to secure the release of a German man who traveled to Syria in June 2013 with the intention of distributing “humanitarian aid.”

The newspaper said that Foreign Ministry officials insisted that no ransom money was paid for his release.

In July, "The New York Times" reported that Al-Qaeda and its affiliates took in at least $125 million in ransom money since 2008.

With reporting by AFP, AP, and Reuters
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