Last updated: 9 January, 2014

Military training helped Swedish abducted journalists

Two Swedish journalists released after being held for six weeks in Syria said Thursday they survived partly thanks to special training they had received on reporting in a war zone.

“I want to thank the Swedish Armed Forces survival school,” reporter Magnus Falkehed said at a press conference held shortly after landing in Stockholm with photographer Niclas Hammarstroem.

“Without this training we wouldn’t have survived more than ten minutes.”

Every year, the Swedish Armed Forces trains journalists who are likely to travel to war zones or other crisis areas.

The journalists explained that thanks to the training they knew what was going to happen at every stage, which helped them prepare themselves and reduce anxiety over uncertainty.

Hammarstroem and Falkehed, both 45, were kidnapped on November 23 as they were leaving Syria after an assignment covering the war there for Swedish newspapers and an independent news agency.

Hammarstroem was freed last Saturday and Falkehed on Wednesday, after being kept in dark cellars in several different locations, with little food and access to a toilet only once per day.

Syria is the deadliest place in the world for journalists, according to media watchdogs.

Reporters Without Borders says at least 27 journalists have been killed in the country since the conflict began.