Picture released by La Stampa on June 1, 2013 shows an undated portrait of journalist Domenico Quirico
This handout picture released by the Italian newspaper La Stampa on June 1, 2013 shows an undated portrait of journalist Domenico Quirico. © - La Stampa/AFP/File
Picture released by La Stampa on June 1, 2013 shows an undated portrait of journalist Domenico Quirico
AFP
Last updated: September 9, 2013

Italian journalist held in Syria released

Italian journalist Domenico Quirico and Belgian national Pierre Piccinin, both kidnapped in Syria in early April, have been released and are on a plane flying to Italy, the Italian government said Sunday

The website of Turin-based daily newspaper La Stampa, for which Quirico is a correspondent, also said he was in a plane on his way back home.

The government said Piccinin was released with Quirico and was with him in the same plane bound for Rome's Ciampino airport.

Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta told La Stampa's editor Mario Calabresi: "Our hope was never extinguished and all the efforts put in place for a positive outcome were crowned with success."

Quirico, 62, is a well-known war correspondent in Italy who worked from African hot spots including Libya, Sudan, Darfur and Mali.

The government gave no immediate information about Piccinin, a historian and teacher who speaks Arabic.

Married with two children, Quirico was able to contact his family after his release.

Another Italian, Jesuit Father Paolo Dall'Oglio, is still missing in Syria and was last seen in the Syrian town of Raqqa, where he hoped to free hostages.

Quirico had entered Syria from Lebanon without an official visa and went missing in early April between Damascus and the flashpoint central city of Homs.

He was able to briefly call his wife on June 6, apparently from the former rebel bastion of Qusayr, near the Lebanese border, southwest of Homs.

The foreign ministry later called on the media not to published unconfirmed information about the kidnapping and to let caution prevail when reporting about the case.

In a video published in June, Quirico's daughters Metella and Eleonora had called for information that would allow them to find their father so they will "soon be able to give him a hug".

Quirico was on his fourth trip to Syria when he was kidnapped in April.

He had been kidnapped before, along with three other journalists working for the Corriere della Sera and Avvenire, when he tried to reach the Libyan capital Tripoli in August 2011.

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