Missing Turkish journalists ‘handed over to Syrian secret police’

Adem Özköse and Hamit Coskun, who were seized in Syria five days ago, being held by intelligence service, according to reports

Two Turkish journalists who went missing in Syria five days ago have been captured and handed over to the Mukhabarat secret police, according to Turkish media reports.

Adem Özköse and Hamit Coskun were caught by Assad-supporting Shabiha militia fighters in a village in Idlib province, north-west Syria, and allegedly transferred to the Mukhabarat. Local sources said the pair were driven to an undisclosed location in armoured vehicles and claimed they may have been tortured. Coskun, a cameraman, is believed to be wounded.

The journalists entered Syria on 5 March to shoot a documentary. Özköse is Middle East correspondent for Gerçek Hayat (Real Life) magazine. Coskun studies Radio and Television at the Istanbul University and has worked on several documentary projects for the Turkish state television TRT among others.

Mustafa Yahya Coskun, the 21-year-old’s elder brother, told the Guardian: “We haven’t had any news from the two. We only know that they are in Syria at the moment, but we do not know where they are. We are currently waiting for confirmation of the news reports.”

He underlined that Özköse was an experienced journalist who was interested in Sunni-Shia reconciliation. “Journalists are doing an important job in Syria, but also a very dangerous one,” he said.

He added that his brother had previously been working as a cameraman and director’s assistant in a documentary film shoot in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Coskun said: “[The Turkish foreign minister] Ahmet Davutogu called us this morning to tell us that the Turkish government would do everything in their power to return [Coskun and Özköse] to us safely. We hope and pray that we will get good news soon.”

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from Constanze Letsch

via http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/mar/15/missing-turkish-journalists-syria-intelligence

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