James Foley likely 'being held with one or more Western journalists' in Syria

GlobalPost | Boston.com | CJR

James Foley, a freelance journalist for Agence France-Presse and GlobalPost who's been missing in Syria since last November, was likely "abducted by a pro-regime militia group and subsequently turned over to Syrian government forces,” GlobalPost CEO and President Philip Balboni says.

Based on what we have learned, it is likely Jim is being held with one or more Western journalists, including most likely at least one other American.

The article notes that McClatchy and Washington Post freelancer Austin Tice has also been missing in Syria since last August. I asked McClatchy Washington Bureau Chief James Asher whether they had any information about Tice being the journalist referenced in Balboni's quote.

"Since August we continue to worry about his safety and hope for his eventual return to his family," he said via email. "Unfortunately there is little more we can say now."

Foley's family was scheduled to speak in Boston Friday at an event commemorating World Press Freedom Day.

Columbia Journalism Review's Trevor Bach wrote about why Foley's family and employers kept quiet about his disappearance: His family, Bach writes, alerted journalists in 2011 when he was abducted in Libya, where he was eventually released.

The Syrian kidnapping was different. This time, the Foleys had no idea where or by whom their son was being held, or even whether he was still alive. In the absence of information, and on the advice of security experts, they decided to remain silent.

“I think it’s very difficult to launch a media campaign when you don’t know who you’re putting pressure on, and this was the case with James,” Foley's friend Nicole Tung told Bach.

Previously: Politics, corruption most dangerous beats for journalists worldwide | Why Gawker honored news blackout for James Foley but not Richard Engel

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at TBD.com and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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