CAIRO -- A new image purporting to show missing freelance journalist Jumpei Yasuda, 42, was released online on the night of May 29, local time.
Yasuda went missing in Syria in June last year. In the new photo, the man claimed as Yasuda holds a white sheet of paper reading, "Please help me. This is the last chance. Yasuda Junpei."
The image may have been released by an organization holding Yasuda captive in order to push forward ransom negotiations with the Japanese government or Yasuda's acquaintances.
The photo was released by the same Syrian man who released a video in March this year thought to show Yasuda. In a phone interview with the Mainichi Shimbun, the man said that Yasuda is held by the al-Nusra Front, a group in Syria affiliated with the international terrorist organization al-Qaida. The man said that the photo was taken on May 28 or later, and that he obtained it from al-Nusra through an intermediary.
The man shown in the new image looks to be the same man as one shown in the March video, but with longer hair and a longer beard.
No direct proof has surfaced that the al-Nusra Front are Yasuda's captors. According to the Syrian man, the captors are demanding ransom money, and that if it is not paid within one month Yasuda could be handed over to the Islamic State extremist group in a hostage exchange.