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Freed Spanish reporters held in same place as missing journalist Yasuda: report

Journalist Jumpei Yasuda is pictured in Tokyo's Minato Ward in this Jan. 25, 2015 file photo. (Mainichi)

PARIS -- Three recently released Spanish reporters held captive by militants in Syria for some 10 months were kept for a time in the same place as missing Japanese journalist Jumpei Yasuda, the Europe Press news agency has reported.

Antonio Pampliega, Jose Manuel Lopez and Angel Sastre returned home on May 8. The Europa Press does not reveal where or for how long the Spaniards were in the company of the 42-year-old Yasuda, or the source of the information.

According to the report, the three Spanish men went missing on July 12, 2015 while working in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo. It's suspected they were kidnapped by the al-Qaida affiliated al-Nusra Front militant group, and they were moved from place to place in the Aleppo area. The Spaniards were apparently allowed to occasionally write letters to their families and watch soccer matches on TV during their captivity.

Yasuda entered Syria from Turkey in late June last year. He was originally scheduled to come home in mid-July, but did not return. An internet video of a man thought to be Yasuda was confirmed on March 16. The man who posted the video told the Mainichi Shimbun that Yasuda had been kidnapped by the al-Nusra Front.

After the three Spanish reporters had been freed, the Spanish government released a statement saying that the governments of Qatar and Turkey had helped secure the men's release. It is unknown if a ransom was paid.

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