Report: German journalist held in Syria

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A German journalist is being held by Syrian forces in the northern battlefield city of Aleppo, a Berlin newspaper reported online Monday, citing his call for help via a mobile phone text message.

Armin Wertz, an Indonesia-based veteran reporter writing for German and Asian media, had entered the conflict-torn country from neighboring Turkey in early May, said the Tagesspiegel daily, for which he works on a freelance basis.

In a first SMS sent on May 5, Wertz had told a friend and colleague in Germany that he was being held by Syrian police in Aleppo, but asked that his detention not be made public.

The journalist had however followed up with a second text message Sunday, explicitly appealing for help.

The report said Wertz was expected to be transferred to the Syrian coastal city of Latakia, which is under the control of regime forces.

The Tagesspiegel said Wertz had not said what he was being accused of but that he had entered the country without a press visa.

A spokeswoman for the German foreign ministry said it was urgently seeking to verify reports that a German national had been arrested in Aleppo and that it had contacted the Syrian embassy in Berlin.

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