Simon Ostrovsky, the Vice journalist who was taken by pro-Russian militia in Ukraine Tuesday, has been released, a Vice spokesperson confirmed.
“VICE News is delighted to confirm that our colleague and friend Simon Ostrovsky has been safely released and is in good health,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “We would like to thank everyone for their support during this difficult time. Out of respect for Simon and his family’s privacy, we have no further statement at this time.”
According to the CBC’s Jean-François Bélanger, the journalist with whom Ostrovsky is currently travelling, Ostrovsky is en route to the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk. Ostrovsky told
Bélanger he was “beaten” and blindfolded by his captors, but then “treated well.” He was described as in good spirits after his release.
He tweeted a little more than an hour after reports of his release:
I’m out and safe. Thank you all for your support. Had no idea I had so many good friends.
— Simon Ostrovsky (@SimonOstrovsky) April 24, 2014
Ostrovsky was taken by the pro-Russian militia in the town of Slavyansk on Tuesday, the self-proclaimed “People’s mayor” of the town, Vyacheslav Ponomarev, said at a press conference.
A representative for the militia confirmed to the Associated Press on Wednesday that the pro-Russian insurgents were still holding Ostrovsky. When asked why, she said only that he was “suspected of bad activities.” The militia insisted throughout the ordeal that Ostrovsky was not a “hostage,” but they had refused to let him leave. They made it clear they were not happy with his reporting, which has provided an on-the-ground look at the Ukrainian crisis.
The U.S. State Department said Wednesday it was “deeply concerned” about Ostrovsky’s apparent kidnapping.
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