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Japanese journalist feared held hostage in Syria: reporters' group

Jumpei Yasuda (Mainichi)

Reporters Without Borders urged on Dec. 22 the immediate release of Japanese freelance journalist Junpei Yasuda, who is believed to be held captive in Syria by a militant group.

    The Paris-based organization released the statement on its website, urging the Japanese government to "do everything possible" for Yasuda's safe release.

    According to the statement, the armed group threatens to kill the 41-year-old journalist if its request for ransom is not satisfied.

    Yasuda's acquaintances say they lost contact with him after he entered Syria in late June via southern Turkey.

    At the same time, freelance journalist Kosuke Tsuneoka says, "As far as I know, there is no demand for ransom regarding Mr. Yasuda. I doubt the credibility of the statement released by Reporters Without Borders."

    Yasuda's mother has revealed that the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs contacted her sometime around late July to early August, telling her that her son was possibly being held hostage.

    "I just want him back safe," she commented.

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