DOHA: An American journalist kidnapped nearly two years ago has been freed in Syria and handed over to UN representatives, after Qatar mediation.
Qatar’s initiative to free Peter Theo Curtis follows directives from the Emir H H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.
Based on the directives and humanitarian grounds, Qatar succeeded in releasing Curtis, kidnapped in Syria in 2012, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement yesterday.
“On directives of H H the Emir, the competent bodies in Qatar exerted efforts to release the journalist, out of its belief in the principles of humanity and keenness on the lives of individuals and their right to freedom and dignity… The journalist was handed over to the UN peacekeeping mission,” QNA said.
Curtis was freed yesterday, after being abducted in Antakya, Turkey, from where he planned to enter Syria in October 2012, Aljazeera said on its website
Footage of the American was released on June 30, showing a dishevelled Curtis with long hair and beard, but appearing to be in good health.
Speaking in a video obtained by Aljazeera, Curtis read from a prepared script, saying his name and profession and that he was a journalist from Boston, Massachusetts.
On his treatment, Curtis said he “had everything” he needed and “everything has been perfect, food, clothing, even friends now”.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said he was relieved Curtis was returning home, before laying blame on Syria’s Al Qaeda affiliate, Al Nusra Front, for the kidnapping. He said the US was using “every diplomatic, intelligence, and military tool” available to release other Americans held hostage.