Japan probing reports of another journalist held in Syria

Video purported to be of Japanese journalist held by Syrian terrorist organization uploaded to Facebook

Japan probing reports of another journalist held in Syria

World Bulletin / News Desk

Japan is investigating reports that a journalist is being held captive by an al-Qaeda-linked group in Syria, after a video was uploaded to Facebook.

When contacted by a Japanese news agency on Thursday, a Syrian man who uploaded the footage told Kyodo that he had received the video of Jumpei Yasuda from a person representing the al-Nusra Front.

He said that the group -- which has been fighting Basher Assad's regime since 2011 -- is demanding a ransom from the government, but it is yet to respond.

In December 2015, rights group Reporters Without Borders said in a statement that Yasuda has been held by an armed group in Syria since July.

It added that his captors had threatened to kill him or sell him to another group unless a ransom was paid.

It did not name which group was reportedly holding Yasuda, but said he was kidnapped in an area controlled by the al-Nusra Front soon after entering the war torn country.

On Thursday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a press conference that the man is likely to be Yasuda, but said the government was not aware of any ransom demand being made.

"We are utilizing various information networks [to deal with the matter]," Kyodo reported him as saying.

He declined to comment on whether the government has directly contacted the group.

In the video, the man -- wearing a black sweater and a scarf -- speaks in English for around one-minute from a white-walled room.

"Hello, I am Jumpei Yasuda and today is my birthday, 16th March," he says.

"I have to say to something to my country. When you're sitting wherever you are, in a dark room, suffering with the pain. There's still no one. No one answering. No one responding. You're invisible."

Turkey has classified the al-Nusra Front as a terrorist organization since June 2014, and the United States since 2012.

In September 2014, it kidnapped 45 Fijian United Nations peacekeepers on the Syrian-Israeli border, claiming they were aiding Assad.

They were released two weeks later.

In August 2014, it released U.S journalist Peter Theo Curtis after holding him for almost two years.

Last year, terrorist group ISIL killed two Japanese hostages -- freelance journalist Kenji Goto and contractor Haruna Yukawa -- in Syria.

Last Mod: 17 Mart 2016, 10:46
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