IFJ/EFJ Condemn Horrifying Attack on British Journalists in Syria

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) have condemned an appalling attack by rebel kidnappers on two British journalists in Syria yesterday, Wednesday 14 May.

According to media reports, Times writer Anthony Lloyd and photographer Jack Hill had spent several days reporting from the city of Aleppo and were returning to the Turkish border early on Wednesday when the car they were travelling in was forced to the side of the road. Lloyd was bound to the back seat of a car, while Hill and a local guide were put in the boot before being driven to a warehouse in the town of Tall Rifat.

Reports say that Hill and a guide attempted to escape, but they were recaptured. Hill was severely beaten while Lloyd was shot in the legs to prevent him from escaping. They were eventually freed and managed to cross the border into Turkey after receiving treatment in a Syrian hospital.

“This was an absolutely appalling attack that must have been extremely frightening and unnerving for the two journalists involved,” said IFJ President Jim Boumelha. “We are extremely relieved that they are free after their terrifying ordeal.

“But sadly this is not an isolated incident. Syria remains one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists. We reiterate our appeal for all factions involved in the country’s conflict to respect the rights and freedoms of journalists and to allow them to work without fear of violence.”

The situation in Syria continues to be extremely volatile. In March IFJ expressed its concern for media safety in the country following the brutal murder of journalist, Omar Abdel Qader, in eastern Syria.

Commenting on the attack, Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said: "This is yet another case of shocking violence perpetrated against journalists doing their best to cover unfolding events in Syria. It is particularly concerning that the attackers were individuals who were supposed to be assisting the journalists in the pursuit of their work. The security and safety of reporters and photographers working in hostile environments is a vitally important issue.

“The NUJ will continue to press the authorities in Syria to do more to ensure that journalists – Syrian and foreign media workers – are able to work in safety and that anyone attempting to compromise the freedom of the press will be dealt with. In the meantime the NUJ offers its full support to both Jack and Anthony and wishes them a full and speedy recovery.”

The IFJ and the EFJ have urged journalists covering events to take every precaution to protect their safety and to refer to the IFJ Safety Guidelines for journalists working in the field.

For more information, please contact IFJ on +32 2 235 22 17

The IFJ represents more than 600 000 journalists in 134 countries