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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Investigation Suggests American Journalist Missing in Syria Is ‘Likely\' Held by Government

James Foley, an American journalist, has been missing in Syria since November.Steven Senne/Associated Press James Foley, an American journalist, has been missing in Syria since November.

James Foley, an American journalist who has been missing in Syria for 162 days, “was most likely abducted by a pro-regime militia group and subsequently turned over to Syrian government forces,” the news site GlobalPost reported on Friday. Before he disappeared, Mr. Foley had contributed reports to GlobalPost and Agence-France Presse as a freelance correspondent.

The news site said that its conclusion was based on “a five-month investigation inside Syria and the wider Middle East.” Philip Balboni, the GlobalPost president, said at an event marking World Press Freedom Day in Boston:

We have obtained multiple independent reports from very credible confidential sources who have both indirect and direct access that confirm our assessment that Jim is now being held by the Syrian government in a prison or detention facility in the Damascus area. We further believe that this facility is under the control of the Syrian Air Force Intelligence service. Based on what we have learned, it is likely Jim is being held with one or more Western journalists, including most likely at least one other American.

Mr. Balboni provided no details about who those other captives may be, but another American freelance journalist, Austin Tice, went missing in Syria last August.

Although the Syrian government has not acknowledged holding Mr. Foley, representatives of the news organization met with the Syrian ambassador to Lebanon in Beirut, Mr. Balboni said.

There has been no information about Mr. Foley's condition or whereabouts since he went missing outside of Idlib in northern Syria in November. Following his disappearance, the journalist's family and supporters started an online appeal for information about his whereabouts. On Friday, they greeted the news about his possible detention by government forces with relief in messages posted on Twitter.

Until the day of his disappearance last year, Mr. Foley used Twitter to post updates from and about Syria as he reported on the conflict.

Mr. Foley was one of 21 journalists abducted in Syria last year, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, which calls Syria the most dangerous country in the world for journalists. An additional 28 reporters were killed in Syria last year.