Families fear for safety of missing journalists

Families fear for safety of missing journalists

Erdem Güneş ISTANBUL
Families fear for safety of missing journalists

A protestor holds a banner showing Turkish journalists, Adem Özköse and Hamit Coşkun (R), lost in Syria. Özkose was last heard from on March 10, when he called from Idlib. AA photo

The relatives of two Turkish journalists who have been missing since March 11 in northern Syria have urged the Turkish government to increase its rescue efforts on fears that the pair could soon be killed.
Ali Adakoğlu, editor-in-chief of Gerçek Hayat (True Life), said local sources had verified that the journalists were alive but that the situation was chaotic due to a lack of information from local and international sources. Still, he said he was hopefully awaiting their rescue. “I do not doubt that the Turkish government is acting in good faith, but it is obvious that faith is not enough at this point. Time is ticking away,” Adakoğlu told the Hürriyet Daily News yesterday.

Adakoğlu also said reporter Adem Özköse, who is Gerçek Hayat’s Middle East correspondent, knows Syria well because he lived there for four years between 2007 and 2011.

“We had a deal with them [Özköse and Coşkun], that they would not send any reports during their journey, so as not to risk exposure to the Syrian army. They were certainly aware that they were risking their lives when they crossed the border into Syria,” Adakoğlu said. Missing cameraman Hamit Coşkun’s brother, Yahya Coşkun, also said the Turkish government should make a greater effort to rescue his brother. “Local sources have told us that my brother’s state of health is fine, and he is not injured, but still as his family we are concerned about his life,” Coşkun said.

FM talks with relatives

Yahya Coşkun is also a journalist, and was aboard the Mavi Marmara flotilla when nine Turkish activists were killed by Israeli troops in a raid on the Gaza-bound ship. The two journalists crossed the Syrian border in the southern province of Hatay and traveled to the northern Syrian city of Idlib. Özköse and Coşkun were allegedly handed over to Syrian intelligence by pro-regime militia.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has spoken to the families of missing journalists on the phone and told them that the initiatives to find their lost relatives were continuing, diplomatic sources have told Anatolia news agency. Meanwhile, Bülent Yıldırım, the head of the Turkey’s Humanitarian Aid Foundation (İHH) said they would announce some news about the state of the missing journalists in a couple of days, adding that they were currently holding back for their own sakes, speaking at a press conference in Istanbul yesterday.

Turkey, Syria