10/24/2018, 10.01
SYRIA - JAPAN
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Japanese journalist Jumpei Yasuda, kidnapped in Syria by al Qaeda in 2015, reportedly released

In the summer the kidnappers released a video in which he appeared tried and called for help from the government. Premier Abe: "relieved" by the news, awaiting official confirmation. The man would be in an immigrant center in Ankara. Japan paid  no ransom. The help of Qatar and Turkey.

Damascus (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The 44-year-old freelance Japanese journalist Jumpei Yasuda, kidnapped in Syria more than three years ago by militias linked to al Nusra (local al Qaeda cell), has been freed and is in Turkey, say Japanese government sources.  The official "identification" is still pending, although Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shows cautious optimism and says he is "relieved" by the news.

No ransom was paid for his release. Addressing the reporters, the Prime Minister thanked Qatar and Turkey for their contributions. "I am relieved - he said - after having received the information. We want official confirmation that the man is indeed Jumpei Yasuda as soon as possible ".

The kidnapping of Yasuda dates back to June 2015, shortly after the reporter's entry into Syria across the Turkish border. Last summer his kidnappers released a video on the internet where he appeared exhausted and called for help from the government for his release.

Chief of Staff Yoshihide Suga confirmed that the government is moving to seek official confirmation of the identity of man through Qatari emissaries. During the late-night press conference he added that it is "very likely" that the reporter was finally released.

"The government of Qatar - underlines Suga - has informed us that Jumpei Yasuda has been freed and is now in an immigrant center in Ankara". "We are trying to verify the information - he added - but it is very likely that it is him".

Appeared in a video released in August in poor condition along with the Italian Alessandro Sandrini, still in the hands of his kidnappers, he wore the orange jumpsuit typical of prisoners in the hands of the jihadists. Armed men loomed behind him.

In the video it was not clear which group was responsible for the kidnap and no special demands were made for his release. Furthermore, recent developments in the war in Syria and the advance of the government army that has recaptured much of the territory may have prompted the first kidnappers [members of the Front of al-Nusra] to cede the hostage to other groups.

In 2015, some militias of the Islamic State (IS, ex Isis) in Syria beheaded the Japanese war correspondent Kenji Goto and his friend Haruna Yukawa. At the time, the government had been criticized for its lack of response and its miserable contribution to trying to save their lives.

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