Iran, the worst offender against press freedom in the world, condemned by the UN Human Rights Special Rapporteur for media repression, where even drawing a cartoon of an MP in soccer strip gets you 25 lashes, is playing savior to detained journalists from Turkey in this bizarre propaganda play.
ISTANBUL – Agence France-Presse 12 May 2012
Turkish journalist Adem Özköse (L) and Hamit Coşkun are missing in Syria. AA photos
Two Turkish journalists who were held in Syria for two months before being freed thanks to Iranian mediation arrived in Tehran today, the Anatolia news agency reported.
Reporter Adem Ozkose and cameraman Hamit Coskun were flown to Tehran from Damascus, and the two men told Anatolia they were in good health and were about to meet relatives in the Iranian capital.
They will fly home to Turkey in the evening or on Sunday at the latest on a plane chartered by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the agency said.
The journalists had last been seen on March 9 near the rebel stronghold of Idlib, in northwest Syria, close to the Turkish border, where they were filming a documentary on the bloody crackdown on dissent.
Anatolia, quoting local Syrian sources and witnesses, said the two men were arrested by a pro-government militia and then handed over to Syrian intelligence.
Erdogan had called for the two, employed by the Islamist paper Milat, to be freed. Describing them as “practically prisoners of war,” he warned Syria it would have to answer for them.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu announced their release earlier Saturday in a Twitter feed, saying he had been given the information by his Iranian counterpart Ali Akbar Salehi.
Iran is one of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s few remaining allies in the region, while Turkey has broken with him as a result of his crackdown on dissent which has left more than 11,000 people dead since March 2011.
As the violence escalates, thousands of Syrians have fled to neighbouring Turkey, and Ankara has called on all Turks living in Syria to leave.