4 things to know about the Spanish journalist group released from captivity in Syria

Published May 8th, 2016 - 02:59 GMT
The Spanish journalists arriving home to Madrid today. (photo: Twitter/Mariano Rajoy Brey)
The Spanish journalists arriving home to Madrid today. (photo: Twitter/Mariano Rajoy Brey)

Three Spanish journalists who were held hostage for nearly a year in Syria arrived home to Madrid today. It's still unclear whether they were held by Daesh, Nusra Front or a different group.  

Here are four things to know about the kidnap of Antonio Pampliega, Jose Manuel Lopez and Angel Sastre:

1. It was probably Qatar that negotiated their release

Qatar's state news agency said that the country's Assistant Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Sultan bin Saad Martian had received a phone call from Spain's minister of state for foreign affairs to say thank you to the State of Qatar "for its efforts in the release," according to Al Jazeera. The small but oil-rich Gulf nation has helped to free other Western hostages who were held by Nusra Front in the past. Qatar has connections with the group that allow it to have back-room discussions about such matters. 

2. It reportedly cost over $11 million to free the journalists

It cost $3.7 million in ransom per journalist--making a total of $11.1 million--to secure the release, according to Syrian freelance journalist Asaad Hanna. 

It's most likely that the government of Spain put up the ransom cash: Spain is widely believed to have paid a ransom in 2014 to secure the release of two other Spanish reporters who'd been kidnapped by Islamic militants in Syria and held for six months.    

3. They didn't know where they were being held

NPR reported today that the three were not sure where in Syria they were held. At one point, one of the journalists was separated from his compatriots. 

4. They appear not to have been tortured by their captors 

The three reporters said they had "been treated well" by the militants who were holding them, according to the state-owned Spanish news agency RTVE. 

--Hunter Stuart


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