Israel makes inquiries about American-Israeli reporter abducted in Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatist leader says reporter is "not a hostage but our guest"; Israeli Foreign Ministry "looking into the matter."

April 23, 2014 19:31
2 minute read.

Armed men stand outside of Ukraine border post. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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The Israeli embassy in Kiev is in contact with local authorities in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slovyansk regarding Simon Ostrovsky, a US journalist with dual American-Israeli citizenship being held by pro-Russia separatists.

The Huffington Post quoted the Russian news outlet Gazeta.RU as saying that Vyacheslav Ponomarev, the “people’s mayor” of Slovyansk that is under the control of the separatists, as saying that Ostrovsky was taken “hostage.”

Later he backtracked, and according to the outlet, told a press conference that “no one took him, no one holds him hostage, but he is with us, reporting and working.”

However, pro-Russian separatists confirmed they were detaining Ostrovsky on Wednesday.

Ponomarev told reporters that Ostrovsky had been detained for reporting what he said was false information that was “destabilizing for us” but that he was being treated well.

“There’s nothing wrong with Ostrovsky. He is with us, he is feeling well and in a clean place,” Ponomarev said. “He is not a hostage but our guest. We only gave him a place of residence.”

Gunmen detained Ostrovsky on Monday night along with other reporters who have since been released.

Vice, an edgy news outlet described as a youth culture magazine and website, issued the following statement: “Vice is aware of the situation and is in contact with the United States State Department and other appropriate government authorities to secure the safety and security of our friend and colleague.”

A spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, said the Israeli embassy was “looking into the matter, seeing what is known, what the local police know.”

The official said that Israel became involved, because Ostrovsky holds Israeli citizenship. The official said he did not know when, or for how long, Ostrovsky lived in Israel.

He has been reporting from Crimea and Ukraine throughout the crisis.

Reports of his abduction first began to appear Tuesday on Twitter.

He has filmed extensively from Israel, producing segments such as “Banishing Israel’s Beduin,” about the Beduin situation in the Negev; “Israel’s killer robots,” about drones; and “Renegade Jewish settlers,” about “Jewish settlers in Palestine: the most notorious squatters in the world.”

Reuters contributed to this report.

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