Turkish media on Monday relayed the video of a Turkish journalist missing in neighbouring Syria for a week and reportedly being held by troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.
The video was broadcast by Syria’s al-Ikhbariya news channel and relayed by Turkey’s private NTV television where Cuneyt Unal, who speaks in Turkish with Arabic subtitles, says he crossed into Aleppo together with armed groups from Chechnya, Libya, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
Unal works for the US-funded al-Hurra network and was in Aleppo together with his colleague Bashar Fahmi, who is also believed to have been captured by loyalist troops.
In the video, Unal appears tired and nervous, with bruises under both eyes.
On Monday, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Unal was forced to make a statement and dictated what he was coerced to say.
In the beginning of the video, the Syrian television broadcasts a picture of the Turkish cameraman with a rocket-propelled grenade rifle.
But Davutoglu said Unal was in Syria for purely journalism reasons. “The Syrian state is responsible for his well-being,” he added.
The US Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) issued a statement calling for the journalist’s release.
“This video is deeply disturbing and underscores the perilous situation for these journalists,” said Michael Meehan, a member of the BBG board and chairman of the Middle East Broadcasting Networks (MBN), which operates al-Hurra.
There was no word on the fate of Fahmi.
“They entered Syria only to report the news. We call for their immediate release, and we urge the Syrian government to take action to ensure their safety,” Meehan added.