National Press Club

National Press Club calls for protection of journalists in Syria

January 4, 2013 | By John Donnelly |

The National Press Club voiced its serious concern over the status of journalists whose lives are at risk as they cover the conflict in Syria.

A number of reporters and media workers have been killed or have gone missing in Syria since the war began, while others have been held prisoner by rebels or by Syrian government personnel.

"Reporters in Syria must be free to do their jobs without fear for their well being or lives," said Club President Theresa Werner. "Government and non-government forces should refrain from targeting journalists who are covering the fighting. Such actions are harmful to society's essential need to be informed about these critical events."

One such reporter is James Foley--a freelancer who has reported for Global Post and Agence France-Presse, among others. He was abducted from his car on Nov. 22 in the northwestern part of Syria near the village of Taftanaz, according to news reports. In the lengthy period that he has been missing, his family has had no information on his status or who took him away.

Foley's family went public this week with his plight after six weeks of behind-the-scenes efforts to attain his release failed to produce results. A witness to Foley's abduction said he was unable to catch anything that might provide clues on the identities or possible allegiances of the kidnappers.

Foley, 39, is an experienced conflict reporter and was previously kidnapped and held captive for a month in Libya in 2011 by the former Muammar Qadhafi regime.

Another U.S. freelancer, Austin Tice, was abducted last August and is still missing.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 28 professional reporters were killed in combat or targeted for murder by opposition or government forces in Syria last year.

Contact: Rachel Oswald, Vice Chair, National Press Club Press Freedom Committee (202 486 9173)