Japanese reporter says barring him from Syria sets a bad precedent

By REUTERS
February 12, 2015 08:44

 
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TOKYO - A Japanese photojournalist whose passport was confiscated by the government ahead of a planned trip to Syria said his case sets a dangerous precedent for other journalists traveling abroad to report on foreign wars.

In an unprecedented move, Japan's Foreign Ministry seized freelance photographer Yuichi Sugimoto's passport this month as it steps up security after the execution of two Japanese nationals captured by Islamic State militants.

"I am concerned that this case might set a very bad precedent in this country. In the future, other journalists might have orders issued and their passports confiscated," Sugimoto told a news conference on Thursday.

"The freedom to report, the freedom to cover news might be harmed," he said.

Sugimoto, who has covered wars in Bosnia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria for the past two decades, had originally planned to travel later this month to the town of Kobani, which was retaken last week by Syrian Kurds backed by US air strikes.

He said ministry officials and policemen visited his apartment in Niigata, northern Japan, this month and told him he would be arrested if he did not hand in his passport.

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