.
.
.
.

Spain to seek Syrian government help to find journalists

Spain says it is trying to establish what happened to three Spanish freelance journalists reported to have gone missing

Published: Updated:

Spain says it is trying to establish what happened to three Spanish freelance journalists reported to have gone missing around the embattled northern Syrian city of Aleppo and that it will contact the government in Damascus over the case.

Justice Minister Rafael Catala told Spain's Cadena SER radio on Wednesday that the government had no news regarding the three and could not say if authorities are treating their disappearance as a kidnapping.

A Spanish journalism association reported on Tuesday the three were missing since July 13. They had traveled to Syria to report on the country's long-running civil war.

In another interview late Tuesday, Catala said it was necessary "to find out what happened, who is holding these journalists, why, and if the possible captors are looking for a ransom."

'Fully active'

Spain's foreign minister said Wednesday Madrid is "fully active" in the search of the three journalists.

"Since hearing the news, we have been fully active" working to track down the three men, Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo said during a public appearance in Madrid in comments quoted by Spanish media.

Officials could not yet confirm whether the men had been kidnapped. Garcia-Margallo said no demands had yet been received from any apparent kidnappers.

The Spanish press federation FAPE identified the three men as Jose Manuel Lopez, a reporter in his 40s, and Antonio Pampliega and Angel Sastre, both in their 30s.

Garcia-Margallo said his ministry was in "permanent contact" with its embassy in Turkey which was leading efforts to track down the men.

He said he had been in contact with various embassies and United Nations representatives in Spain as well as Spanish intelligence sources in Syria.

"I would ask that we proceed with discretion and respect" for those missing, he said.