ROCHESTER, N.H. From their New Hampshire home, the parents of a foreign journalist who has been missing in Syria since he was kidnapped more than a month ago appealed to his captors for compassion and any information about their son’s health and welfare.
Thirty-nine-year-old James Foley was kidnapped in northwest Syria by unknown gunmen on Nov. 22, his parents said Thursday. He was in the country contributing videos to Agence France-Press, which has vowed to help secure his release.
Foley’s parents, John and Diane Foley, decided to hold a news conference at their home to make a public plea to his captors because the Foleys haven’t received any information about their son in six weeks.
“We just don’t know anything,” Diane Foley said. “We don’t know who has him.”
They have kept the Christmas holiday lights on in the windows of their Rochester home as a vigil for their son’s safe return.
“I appeal to the people who have Jim to let us know where he is and to help us secure his release,” John Foley said. “We just pray that he’s released.”
Twenty-eight journalists were killed in Syria in 2012, prompting the Committee to Protect Journalists to name Syria the most dangerous country in the world to work in last year.
The Foleys would not discuss any detail about efforts through the U.S. government or otherwise to secure their son’s release. Not long ago, they lived through the same anguish and fear over their son’s safety.
In 2011, Foley was held by government forces in Libya while covering that country’s civil war. Another journalist — South African photographer Anton Hammerl – was shot during their capture and left to die in the desert. Foley and another journalist were released after six weeks.
“I’ll regret that day for the rest of my life,” James Foley told The Associated Press in 2011. “I’ll regret what happened to Anton.”
Foley has worked in a number of conflict zones in the Middle East, including Syria, Libya and Iraq. He and another journalist were working in the northern province of Idlib in Syria when they were kidnapped in November near the village of Taftanaz. Agence France-Press Chairman Emmanuel Hoog has said the agency is doing all it can to secure Foley’s release.
“He’s passionate about giving life to stories of people in conflict areas,” Foley’s father said Thursday.
Asked if Foley had any reservations about going to Syria, Diane Foley replied softly: “Not enough.”