Missing Turkish Cameraman Appears on Syrian TV

Posted August 27th, 2012 at 11:30 am (UTC-5)
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A Turkish cameraman who went missing while in northern Syria a week ago has appeared in a video aired on a pro-government Syrian news channel.

In the video shown on al-Ikhbariya Monday, Cuneyt Unal talks about how he traveled into Syria and what he experienced. It is not clear when or under what conditions the interview took place.

Unal was on assignment for the U.S.-funded Alhurra television channel. Alhurra's parent organization, the Broadcasting Board of Governors, also oversees the Voice of America.

The video clip starts with a still photograph of Unal holding a rocket launcher. It then shows a tired-looking Unal, with what appears to be bruises under his eyes, speaking to a person who is off-camera and holding a microphone.

Unal says he flew from Istanbul to Hatay and then drove to Kilis province. From Kilis, he says he traveled to Azaz with what he calls “an armed group” that included Chechens, Libyans, Saudi Arabians and Qataris.

Unal also talks about traveling with the group to the Mahri Tarafat region and then to Aleppo where there were clashes with government forces and he was captured.

In response to the video, Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the cameraman's speech was dictated to him and that the Syrian government is responsible for his safety.

Unal crossed into Syria on August 20, along with Alhurra correspondent Bashar Fahmi and two Japanese journalists, one of whom, Mika Yamamoto, was killed in Aleppo a day later after being caught in a gunfight between rebel and government forces.

In the video, Unal does not mention the whereabouts of his Alhurra colleague, Bashar Fahmi, who also remains missing.