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Lebanon: ICRC transfers freed Swedish journalist from Aarsal to Beirut

08-01-2014 News Release 14/05

Beirut/Geneva (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) today transferred one of two Swedish journalists abducted in Syria last November from Aarsal, in eastern Lebanon, to Beirut.

"We met the journalist in Aarsal and took him in an ICRC car to Beirut," said Raoul Bittel, the deputy head of the ICRC delegation in Lebanon. "When we reached the capital, the journalist was placed in the care of Swedish embassy officials."

The transfer took place at the request of the Swedish embassy. The other journalist abducted in Syria had been released previously without ICRC involvement.

"The ICRC acted on a strictly humanitarian basis," said Mr Bittel. "Our organization was not involved in any way in the negotiations that led to the journalists' release."

Because of the nature of their work, journalists and other media professionals covering armed conflict are inevitably exposed to the dangers inherent in military operations. Nevertheless, as civilians not taking a direct part in the fighting, international humanitarian law requires that civilian journalists engaged in professional missions in areas of armed conflict be respected and protected. Deliberate acts of violence against them are prohibited.

Media outlets and family members of journalists who are captured, go missing or are wounded in a conflict situation can contact the nearest ICRC office, call the organization's 24-hour hotline on +41 79 217 32 85, or send an e-mail message to press@icrc.org for help and advice.

For further information, please contact:
Samar el Kadi, ICRC Beirut, tel: +961 70 153 928
Claire Kaplun, ICRC Beirut, tel: +961 71 802 876
Dibeh Fakhr, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 37 23 or +41 79 447 37 26