Two Reuters TV journalists missing in Syria

LONDON Sun Mar 27, 2011 2:19pm EDT

Related Topics

LONDON (Reuters) - Two Reuters television journalists have been missing in Syria since Saturday night, when they were due to return to Lebanon.

Beirut-based producer Ayat Basma and cameraman Ezzat Baltaji had been expected to cross into Lebanon by road at approximately 1830 GMT (2:30 p.m. ET) on Saturday, where they had arranged for a taxi to pick them up from the border.

The last known contact was at 1722 GMT (1:22 p.m. ET), when Baltaji sent a phone message to a colleague in Beirut in which he said: "We will leave now."

Basma and Baltaji, both Lebanese nationals, travelled to Syria on Thursday afternoon. Mass protests that erupted 10 days ago have posed the biggest challenge to President Bashar al-Assad's 11-year rule.

The two journalists have been unreachable by telephone since Saturday night.

Reuters Editor-in-Chief Stephen Adler said: "Reuters is deeply concerned about our two Reuters television colleagues who went missing in Syria on Saturday. We have reached out to the relevant authorities in Syria and have asked for their help in securing our colleagues' safe return home."

A Syrian official told Reuters on Sunday that authorities were working on resolving the issue.

A senior Reuters editor plans to travel to Damascus to discuss the matter formally with Syrian officials.

Basma, who has gone on reporting assignments in Tunisia, Egypt and Iraq, has been with Reuters since February 2007. Baltaji has worked for the company since April 2008.

On Friday, Syrian authorities withdrew the accreditation of Reuters text correspondent Khaled Yacoub Oweis, saying he had filed "unprofessional and false" coverage of events in Syria.

Reuters said it stood by its coverage from Syria, where more than a week of protests have spread from the south to other parts of the country.

Reuters, part of New York-based Thomson Reuters, the leading information provider, employs some 3,000 journalists worldwide.

Reporting in English, Arabic and more than a dozen other languages, Reuters has had bureaux across the Middle East for well over a century.

(Editing by Kevin Liffey)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see
Comments (3)
nullARC5 wrote:
Sorry to hear the news. We’ll be keeping them in prayer and hope for the best.

Mar 27, 2011 6:50pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
“Allah hath set a seal on their hearts and on their hearing, and on their eyes is a veil; great is the penalty they (incur).” Quran chp “THE COW”

When we cannot hear and we cannot see how can we open our hearts to the plight of those subject to tyranny?

For in silence the anguished cries of the oppressed remain unheard great is the penalty they (incur).

Such is the way of tyrants.

Our hearing and sight, the worlds journalists risking their lives each day for us all, enable us to act on the behalf of others oppressed, by attacking and killing journalist tyrants attempt to set a seal on our hearts, on our hearing, and on our eyes to prevent us understanding the true nature of their diabolical deeds.

Mar 27, 2011 7:25pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
GeyeJo wrote:
Is the government loving media trying to sell us another unconstitutional war? Seriously??

Mar 27, 2011 9:07pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.