WASHINGTON DC – U.S.-based international broadcasters today renewed their call for the release of Alhurra TV correspondent Bashar Fahmi, who disappeared in Syria on August 20, 2012.
“Reporting from Syria under the current conditions is inherently risky, but ongoing incidents such as this really bring the risks home,” said Jeff Shell, chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which provides funding and oversight for Alhurra. “This board has been profoundly concerned about Bashar Fahmi since the moment he disappeared. We call for his immediate release in the name of media freedom in Syria and everywhere.”
Fahmi was reporting from Aleppo with three other journalists when a firefight erupted; Japanese journalist Mika Yamamoto was killed and cameraman Cüneyt Ünal was captured.
Fahmi went missing after the firefight. No one has heard from him since, nor has any group claimed responsibility for his capture. The Syrian government released Ünal in November 2012 after a delegation of Turkish parliamentarians and media organization representatives traveled to Damascus to secure the two journalists’ release.
“It is unimaginable that one year later we are still at a loss for information regarding the whereabouts or well-being of Bashar,” said Michael Meehan, a BBG member and the chairman of the board overseeing the Middle East Broadcasting Networks, Inc., which manages Alhurra and Radio Sawa. “This has been a long year of uncertainty and pain for Bashar’s wife and children and his Alhurra family. Our hearts go out to all of them. We appeal to anyone with information about Bashar to please contact the BBG.”
“Bashar is a dedicated and courageous journalist who went into Syria to tell the story of the Syrian people,” noted MBN President Brian Conniff. “Journalists should be able to report freely, without fear of attacks. Bashar risked his life to report on Syria. He did it because of his passion to tell the world about what was happening in the war-torn country.”
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Syria was the most dangerous country for journalists in 2012. Last year, 28 journalists were killed, 21 were abducted and 15 were imprisoned in Syria. In addition to Fahmi, two American journalists, Austin Tice and James Foley disappeared while reporting in Syria.