James Foley, Aleppo, Syria – 07/12. Photo: Nicole Tung.
Before you read this I will let you know this has absolutely nothing to do with running or fitness but rather my other passion, journalism. It is a plea for help and I’m not sure how much it will really help but I thought I’d give it a shot.
Yesterday, I found out one of my former colleagues while I was an intern at GlobalPost was reported missing while on assignment in Syria. James Foley, an extremely talented veteran foreign correspondent, was kidnapped in Syria on November 22, six weeks ago, according to a press release published by his family yesterday. Here is an excerpt from the release:
BOSTON – Jan. 2nd, 2012 – The family of American journalist James Foley today announced their son was kidnapped by unidentified gunmen in northwest Syria on Thanksgiving Day, November 22. The Foley family wishes to step up public awareness to support the release of Jim unharmed.
“We want Jim to come safely home, or at least we need to speak with him to know he’s okay,” said John Foley, father of Jim Foley. “Jim is an objective journalist and we appeal for the release of Jim unharmed. To the people who have Jim, please contact us so we can work together toward his release.” – via freejamesfoley.org
While I only worked with James for eight short weeks during my summer internship at GlobalPost in 2011, I had a hard time hearing this news. Unfortunately, James is not new to being kidnapped overseas. In the spring of 2011, while on assignment for GlobalPost, James was kidnapped in Libya by Muammar Gaddafi loyalists, along with two other journalists- a fourth journalist was killed in the process of the kidnapping. After spending 44 days in a Libyan prison, James was released. He later returned to Libya to report on Gaddafi’s fall. I met James shortly after his release when I started my internship in June.
James is the kind of journalist the world needs. He reports on what he sees, from the frontlines, completely objectively. He is brave and willing to risk life and limb to get the story. Hearing James’ stories about reporting abroad while I was an intern at GlobalPost sparked my own interest in becoming a foreign correspondent, so much so that I seriously considered going abroad to the Middle East upon graduation to report on the turmoil going on in those countries. It’s news like his recent capture that causes me to consider the sacrifices and dangers of taking such risks. But to me, it’s amazing there are people like James, and countless other foreign correspondents, who risk their lives to get the story. They are truly doing an incredible service to us all.
James’ family, who hail from Rochester, New Hampshire, have set up a website (www.freejamesfoley.org) to campaign for his release. If you have a few minutes, I would ask you visit the site and join the appeal. I realize my readership might not be as in tune with this sort of news but I know the running community is strong and can band together to support a good cause. You can also stay up-to-date with the latest news on Twitter @FreeJamesFoley and Facebook Free James Foley.