NBC News Reporter Richard Engel and His Crew Are Free

Dashiell Bennett
December 18, 2012

NBC News has revealed that their top foreign correspondent Richard Engel and his crew have been released from captivity after going missing in Syria for nearly a week. Engel and team were abducted shortly after crossing the border from Turkey into Syria last Thursday, and taken to unknown location. According to NBC, the group was held, bound and blindfolded for five days, until Monday night when the group holding them was involved in a firefight with Syrian rebels, in which two of his captors were killed. Engel and his crew were freed and then crossed back in tow Turkey on Tuesday, unharmed. No group has claimed responsibility, but NBC says they were not pro-regime sympathizers.

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Engel's disappearance was only revealed to the public on Monday afternoon, after a Turkish news service published the story online. NBC had been furiously trying to enforce a media blackout on the story, but once numerous English language reports on the story had been published and the news hit Twitter it became impossible to keep it a secret. Several other journalist kidnappings—most notably, the abduction of David Rohde of The New York Times—have been kept secret in the past out of fear that reporting the story would interfere with ransom negotiations or otherwise put the abductees in danger.

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A Ukrainian journalist, Ankhar Kochneev, was kidnapped by anti-Assad rebels who accused her of being a Russian spy, and threatened to kill her by last Friday if a $50 million ransom was not paid. Her current whereabouts are unknown, though she is reported to be still alive.