Al Arabiya’s Baker Atyani freed
Baker Atyani, a veteran Middle Eastern TV reporter who had interviewed Osama bin Laden, was kidnapped in the Philippines in June 2012
Al Arabiya News Channel correspondent Baker Atyani was released on Wednesday after 18 months in captivity by armed militants in the Philippines, Al Arabiya News Channel said in a statement.
“Concerted efforts that lasted for 18 months led to the release of Al Arabiya correspondent Baker Atyani held in captivity under militant groups in the Sulu Islands in the Philippine province of Mindanao,” Al Arabiya News Channel announced.
A source inside the channel said the kidnappers, who were part of Abu Sayyaf Islamist group, handed over Atyani to the local governor’s office on Wednesday evening and that the Philippine authorities will secure his return to his country Jordan.
The statement said Atyani, who was kidnapped on June 12, 2012, is “suffering from health problems due to his long period of his captivity,” Al Arabiya News Channel said.
“There will be more details released later, but for now there is an overwhelming feeling of joy and relief that our colleague Baker will finally be re-joining his family and re-joining us,” an editor inside the channel said.
Atyani was released after several calls by the Cairo-based al-Azhar, Jerusalem Grand Mufti and the Islamic scholars of Mindanao, the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), Palestinian President Mahmoud, and after continuous follow up by the Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC) and in close cooperation with his family.
Atyani, a veteran Middle Eastern TV reporter who had interviewed Osama bin Laden months before the Sept. 11 attacks, arrived in Manila on June 5 to shoot a documentary film on Muslims in the south of the Philippines. Seven days later, he was kidnaped and remained in activity until he was released Wednesday, Al Arabiya statement said.
MBC Chairman Sheikh Walid al-Ibrahim congratulated Atyani’s family and Al Arabiya News Channel on his release.
Al Arabiya General Manager Abdulrahman al-Rashed thanked everyone inside Al Arabiya who contributed to the release of Atyani whom he described as "one of the most important correspondents who covered the war in Afghanistan and the fighting’s in Pakistan."
Al-Rashed said more details about his kidnapping would be revealed later, adding: “the time now is to celebrate Atyani’s release”