Syrian regime frees detained American journalist after four years

Syrian regime frees detained American journalist after four years
2 min read
09 April, 2016
US photojournalist Kevin Patrick Dawes, who has been held in Syria since 2012, has been released, US State Department has confirmed.
The US is seeking information on a number of US citizens missing in Syria [Getty]
An American journalist who was captured and detained after entering Syria four years ago has been released, the State Department said on Friday.

Thirty-three-year-old freelance photographer Kevin Patrick Dawes was captured in 2012.

The American citizen, who was held as a "detainee," was released a few days ago, spokesman Mark Toner said.

Moscow, which has been backing the Syrian regime in the civil war that has now entered its sixth year, played a key role in securing Dawes' release.

US President Barack Obama had reportedly reached out to his Russian counterpart seeking help in the search for US citizens who went missing in Syria, Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.

"As a result of this work, it was found out that one of them, Kevin Dawes, was being held under arrest," Zakharova said in a statement.

Kevin Patrick Dawes was captured in 2012
[Federal Bureau of Investigation]

Zakharova cited "illegal entry into the country and other offences" as reasons for the detention of Dawes by Syrian authorities.

Russia hopes Washington appreciates the "gesture" of the Syrian government in Damascus, the statement said.

Meanwhile, the US continues to work with Czech officials in Syria to get information on the welfare and whereabouts of Austin Tice and an unknown number of other American citizens missing or detained in Syria, Toner added.

Tice, of Houston, Texas, disappeared in August 2012 while covering Syria's civil war.

The Geneva-based press watchdog Press Emblem Campaign (PEC) cited Syria as the most dangerous country for journalists, saying at least 13 had been killed so far this year.

In December, the Syrian Network for Human Rights [SNHR] said at least 27 journalists were killed in Syria and dozens more injured or arrested between October and December alone. At least one was killed as a result of Russian airstrikes.

The Syrian civil war erupted in March 2011 after peaceful protesters, demanding reforms, took to the streets across the country. Since then, hundreds of thousands of civilians have been killed and more than 12 million people - half the population - have been displaced.

Agencies contributed to this report.