Spanish reporter freed from Syria feels like ‘walking on air’
One of three Spanish journalists released after nearly a year held hostage in Syria by an Al Qaeda-linked group said Monday he feels like he is "walking on air", after being reunited with his family.
Angel Sastre added he was grateful to the Madrid government, a day after flying home with fellow freelance reporters Jose Manuel Lopez and Antonio Pampliega on a Spanish defence ministry jet sent to Turkey to bring them back.
“I am very happy, enjoying myself, walking on air,” Sastre told radio Onda Cero.
The three journalists were kidnapped by armed men on July 13 while travelling together in a small van in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, where they had been reporting on fighting for various Spanish media.
They were held by the Al-Nusra front, Al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate.
“Your life changes in a few hours. From being in Syria for ten months, now I am in Madrid with my family after all that happened. I am very happy to be together with my family. I am in the phase of recovering a bit the life I had,” Sastre said.
“We feel very grateful for the government’s handling” of the situation, he added.
Sastre, 35, who has worked in trouble spots around the world for Spanish television, radio and press, gave no details about his time in captivity or how the three men were released.
The Spanish government said in a statement late Saturday that their release was “possible thanks to the collaboration of allies and friends especially in the final phase from Turkey and Qatar”, but gave no further details.
“For these types of operation to succeed, for them to continue to succeed, what is important is discretion,” Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo told Antena 3 television on Monday.
“What is important to know here is that Spain has partners, allies that will help us in extreme difficult situations like a kidnapping,” he added.