Almost All Journalists Abducted in 2021 Were in the Middle East, Report Says

Almost all the journalist who are held hostage last year around the world were abducted in the Middle East, said Reporters Without Borders’ (RSF) in its latest report on journalists who are detained, missing or killed in the line of duty.

According to RSF, currently there are 65 reporters held as hostages across the world, but 64 of them are only in the Middle East.

In its annual round-up report, the RSF said French journalist Olivier Dubois, who disappeared in Mali in April, is the only one held outside the region, while the rest are being held by extremist and jihadi gangs and organized groups in Middle Eastern area.

According to RSF, the extremist groups in Syria have taken 44 reporters as hostages, making it top on the list.

Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), an extremist group that controls the Idlib region in the north-west of the country, has kidnapped four journalists this year, the report said.

The RSF named the four hostages as Khaled Hseno, Adham Dashrne and the brothers Bashar and Mohamed Alshekh.

The RSF put the number of media professionals in detention around the world to 488, which is the highest number since the group began keeping such data more than 25 years ago.

RSF said it has registered the lowest number of journalists killed in the quarter of a century due to the relative stabilization of conflicts in the Middle East after the peak of 2016.

46 journalists were killed this year, with 65 percent of them deliberately targeted to be eliminated, the RSF added.

However, the RSF said the number of journalists that were arrested is also up 60 in total, a third more than in 2020.

A Yemeni journalist, Ali Aboluhom, who was given a 15-year sentence in Saudi Arabia, is among the most striking cases in the Mideast, according to report.

Aboluhom was detained for his tweet posts, which the Arab officials describe as containing “ideas of apostasy, atheism and blasphemy.”

One of the oldest detained journalists is Kayvan Samimi Behbahani, who is being held in Iran.

Editor-in-chief of the monthly magazine Iran Farda and president of the Association for the Defense of Press Freedom, Behbahani is 72 years old, who was sentenced to three years in prison on a charge of “anti-government propaganda” in December 2020, the report added.

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