Final member of NBC team free after Syria kidnap
In this image made from video, NBC chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel, right, shakes hands with an unidentified person after crossing back into Turkey, after they were freed unharmed following a firefight at a checkpoint after five days of captivity inside Syria, in Cilvegozu, Turkey, Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012. Engel told the Turkish news agency Anadolu that he and his colleagues are "very happy to be out" and they are "very tired." (AP Photo/Anadolu via AP TV) TURKEY OUT, TV OUT
LONDON (AP) — The last missing member of an NBC team that was kidnapped in Syria has been freed and is safely in Turkey, NBC News executives said Wednesday.
Ian Rivers was part of the NBC team led by the network's chief foreign correspondent, Richard Engel. They were kidnapped in Syria on Thursday, and Engel and several other members escaped unharmed on Monday.
"We're thrilled that he found his way to safety," said NBC News communications director Erika Masonhall.
In a brief amateur video made before he left Syria, Rivers said he and the others had been "blindfolded, handcuffed and roughed up a little bit" while being held by pro-regime militia groups.
He said he ended up getting released on his own "in the confusion of some type of handover."
This undated photo provided by NBC News shows Richard Engel at the end of a reporting trip in Syria in July 2012. NBC's chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel and his production team were released unharmed Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012, after being held captive for five days inside Syria by an "unknown group," the network says. Engel, 39, has been reporting on the Syrian civil war. (AP Photo/NBC News) MANDATORY CREDIT TO "NBC News"
NBC said in a statement that Rivers got separated from the other journalists as the other men escaped from captivity during a firefight between their captors and Syrian rebels.
Masonhall said Rivers, a technical support staffer, was left without shoes and without communications gear, but found his way to safety and is thought to be in good condition. He will receive a medical evaluation, then travel on to the U.S. or the U.K.
"All of us at NBC News can breathe a huge sigh of relief and express our deep appreciation to all who helped secure their freedom," NBC News President Steve Capus said in a statement.
Appearing on NBC's "Today" show Tuesday, an unshaven Engel said more than a dozen pro-regime gunmen dragged him and his colleagues from their car, killed one of their rebel escorts and subjected them to mock executions.