Middle East

German journalist Janina Findeisen flees Syria captivity with baby

Fighters from Jabhat Fateh al-Sham in a pick-up truck in Idlib, Syria, on 1 August 2016 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The woman was reportedly held hostage by the jihadist group Jabhat Fateh al-Sham

A German woman who was kidnapped in Syria while pregnant and gave birth in captivity has escaped with her baby, the German foreign ministry said.

German media have named the woman as freelance journalist Janina Findeisen, who worked for Munich's Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily and broadcaster NDR.

Ms Findeisen was kidnapped in October 2015, and reportedly gave birth in December.

Mother and son are "in good condition, considering", the government said.

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She is believed to have been captured by a faction within the Islamist Nusra Front militant group, recently renamed Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (JFS), which was reportedly demanding a €5m ransom (£4.3m; $5.6m) for her release.

The group was linked to al-Qaeda before splitting from it in July.

But JFS denied holding her hostage; in a tweet it said it had in fact freed the woman and her child from the prison where they were being held by a "small group", which it did not name.

The 27-year-old journalist and her baby are now in Turkey under the care of German consular officials and members of the German federal police.

'Lured to Syria'

"The German government is relieved about the outcome of this case given the extremely difficult overall situation in Syria," the country's foreign ministry said.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Ms Findeisen is a freelance journalist who was writing about the war in Syria

Reporters without Borders Germany, a non-profit group working for press freedom, said Ms Findeisen's situation "shows again the incalculable dangers to which journalists are continually exposed in the Syrian war".

It praised the media for their considered response to the kidnapping, saying the lack of sensationalism may have stopped the abduction becoming an execution.

Ms Findeisen wrote under the pseudonym Marie Delhaes. German news magazine Focus reported in February that she had been lured to Syria by a woman from Bonn, who promised her exclusive information about Islamist militants.

The German embassy in Ankara is organising Ms Findeisen's return home, and has thanked the Turkish government and other international partners for their help.

The German government says it does not pay ransom demands for hostages. It is unclear if any money was paid in this case.

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