Ukraine journalist kidnapped in Syria worked for Russia: video

29th November 2012, Comments 0 comments

Ukrainian journalist Ankhar Kochneva, captured by Syrian rebels in October, had been working for Russian and Syrian intelligence, according to a video posted online by activists on Thursday.

Kochneva, who appeared to be in good health and said she had worked as an interpreter for Russian and Syrian military officers, asked the Russian and Ukrainian governments to meet her kidnappers' demands, without spelling them out.

It was not possible to verify the circumstances under which Kochneva made her statement or if she was coerced as none of her captors were shown in the footage.

Earlier this month, another video was posted on YouTube under the title: "The Ukrainian spy working with Russian officers is in the hands of the Free Syrian Army," the main rebel fighting force in Syria.

In it, she also asked for the Ukrainian embassy, the Russian embassy and the Syrian government to meet the kidnappers' demands.

Kochneva officially who worked as an interpreter for a Russian-language television channel in Syria at the time of her abduction.

The journalist, who is fluent in Arabic, has frequently defended the regime of President Bashar al-Assad on Syrian television and had received threats from the rebels, according to one of her friends in the Russian press.

In the latest video, she said she had been captured on her way from the coastal city of Tartus to Damascus.

She said she had been present at a number of battles, particularly in the central city of Homs, and also present at the September 26 attack on intelligence headquarters in Damascus that killed Assad's brother-in-law and key regime hawk Assef Shawkat.

Two other foreign journalists are missing in Syria.

US freelance journalist Austin Tice disappeared on August 13 in the suburbs of Damascus. A video posted on the Internet in early October showed Tice blindfolded, but gives no information about the conditions of his detention.

On August 20, Palestinian-Jordanian Bashar Fahmi, with the Arabic-language television channel Al-Hurra, disappeared in the northern province of Aleppo.

Fifteen professional journalists have been killed in Syria since the conflict began in March 2011. In addition, 41 citizen journalists have been killed, according to media watchdog Reporters Without Borders.

© 2012 AFP

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