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Japan says journalist captured in Syria three years ago has been freed

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TOKYO (Reuters) - A man believed to be a Japanese freelance journalist who was captured three years ago in Syria has been freed, a Japanese government spokesman said on Tuesday.

“We received information from Qatar that Mr. Jumpei Yasuda had been released,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters. “We were informed that he is in an immigration facility in Antakya (in Turkey).”

Suga said the government was making checks to confirm that the man was in fact Yasuda. But he said that in light of the available information that was highly likely, adding that Yasuda’s wife had been notified.

Japanese media reported that Yasuda, 44, had been captured by an al Qaeda affiliate after entering Syria from Turkey in 2015.

Since then, he has appeared occasionally in online videos looking increasingly unkempt with greying hair.

Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka and Nobuhiro Kubo; Editing by John Stonestreet and Helen Popper