Family: Missing journalist alive in Syria

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May 3, 2013, 6:03 pm
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(NECN: Lauren Collins, Boston) – The information is described as recent and reliable: captured freelance journalist James Foley is alive.

“This the first time we've heard anything like this, so we are very hopeful,” says his mother, Diane Foley.

The New Hampshire native had been filing reports for Boston based Global Post, which has found out through its sources that Foley was most likely taken by the same pro-government militia group that kidnapped NBC’s Richard Engel last year.  It's believed Foley's being detained in Damascus along with other western journalists and at least one American.

Global Post’s Phil Balboni says, “to the best of our knowledge Jim is well and being treated well and we are now actively negotiating with the Syrian government for his release.”

That announcement was made Friday at an event in Boston for World Press Freedom Day that highlighted Foley's work and the dangers conflict journalists face around the world.  Panelists like Roxana Saberi, held on a trumped-up espionage charge in Iran in 2009, remembers what it was like to sit in a cell and worry.

“We didn't want to create suffering for people who loved us and there's nothing you can do about it because you can't control your surroundings,” she says.

John Foley is sure his son feels the same. “I really fear for his emotions more than my own,” he says, “'cause he is aware that this is going on.”

The Foleys have run the range of emotions in recent months from sad to frustrated and now hopeful, though “even now that we know where he is, he's in a very dangerous country,” says Diane.  

“We're not at the finish line yet,” says Balboni, “but we are very encouraged.”  

At this point the state department is not involved in negotiations for Foley's release.  His supporters are maintaining a petition on line at freejamesfoley.org.

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