Turkish journalist Bünyamin Aygün freed safe and sound from Syrian captivity
Daily Milliyet photojournalist Bünyamin Aygün went to Syria over a month ago to do 'one last story,' according to his colleagues.
Turkish journalist Bünyamin Aygün, who was kidnapped in Syria over a month ago, returned to Turkey through the Cilvegözü border gate in Hatay on Jan. 5 after being freed from captivity.
“I am proud of being this country’s citizen. I think that al-Qaeda-linked groups had a connection with my kidnapping,” Aygün told reporters in his first remarks to the press after his release.
"Every night, I had the same dream that I was being freed. I cannot believe that I am free now. It feels like a dream," he added.
Aygün passed through the border with a team of eight National Intelligence Organization (MİT) special unit members. The special unit team reportedly entered 20 kilometers into Syria to bring the daily Milliyet reporter back to Turkey.
“Bünyamin Aygün is inside Turkey’s borders. Once again, welcome back to your country, Bünyamin,” Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said via Twitter, announcing the much-anticipated that gave relief to Aygün’s colleagues and family, who had gathered earlier on Jan. 5 in Istanbul to urge the authorities to increase efforts for his release.
“I thank everyone who made an effort during this process, particularly the National Intelligence Organization,” Davutoğlu added.
Aygün had been kidnapped 40 days ago after he went to Syria for “one last story,” according to his colleagues.
Twenty-five journalists have been killed since the start of the conflict in March 2011, according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF), while more than 30 journalists are estimated to have been abducted or detained.
The al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is believed to be holding several foreign journalists, as well as scores of Syrian activists.
The vast majority of the kidnappings over the past six months have occurred in opposition-held parts of northern and eastern Syria, where al-Qaeda-linked rebel groups are particularly strong.