After being held captive in war-torn Syria for six months, two Spanish journalists have finally returned home.
Javier Espinosa, a Middle East correspondent for El Mundo, along with freelance photographer Richard Garcia Villanova, were reunited with their friends and families in Madrid Sunday.
CNN quotes Espinosa telling the crowd: "We want to thank everyone who has worried about us and who has made it possible for us to return home. ... I'm sorry for what we have made you go through."
Espinosa and Villanova were abducted by ISIS, a rebel group with ties to al-Qaida, near the Turkish border on Sept. 16. The two men were preparing to leave Syria after two weeks of reporting. (ViaRTVE)
The BBC notes, "ISIS assumes all foreign journalists and aid workers in Syria are spies and has issued orders to arrest them."
The Spanish government and the victims' families originally kept the kidnappings quiet while negotiating for the journalists' safe release. News of the abductions finally went public in December after talks between the kidnappers and the government stalled.
After six months in captivity, Espinosa and Villanova were released and handed over to the Turkish government. Espinosa phoned the El Mundo offices to let them know he was coming home. "It was Javier as he always was, absolutely calm. At the same time, we were all clapping and cheering and crying." (Via Euronews)
Syria has become an increasingly dangerous place for journalists since its civil war broke out in 2011.Reporters Without Borders, which has called Syria "the world's most dangerous country for journalists," estimates 20 other journalists are currently missing or abducted.
Spain welcomed home another journalist who had been held captive in Syria earlier in March. El Periódico journalist Marc Marginedas was released by ISIS on March 2.