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SPJ is relieved American freelance journalist Peter Curtis was released, hopes trend will continue


August 25, 2014

David Cuillier, SPJ President, 520.248.6242 (PDT),
Jennifer Royer, SPJ Communications Strategist, 317.361.4134 (EDT),

INDIANAPOLIS — The Society of Professional Journalists is relieved to learn of the release of American freelance writer Peter Theo Curtis on Sunday.

Held for almost two years in a prison run by an Al Qaeda affiliate in Syria, Curtis, 45, was freed following extensive mediation by Qatar, the tiny Gulf emirate and United States ally that has successfully negotiated the release of numerous Western hostages, the New York Times reported.

“This, obviously, is a much better outcome than what happened less than a week ago to American photojournalist James Foley,” said SPJ President David Cuillier. “We are thrilled for Curtis’ family, friends and colleagues who have eagerly and anxiously been awaiting his safe return. We hope other radical groups will follow suit and release Steven Sotloff and the other American journalists currently being held captive.”

Sotloff is a 31-year-old freelance journalist who appeared last week in the video in which Foley was executed at the hands of the Islamic State militant group (ISIS). The group stated that Sotloff would be next to die as retribution for American airstrikes on ISIS targets in Iraq. SPJ released a statement last week denouncing groups who intimidate and use violence against journalists for political gain.

“These men and thousands of other journalists risk their lives every day to seek truth and report it, and it is unconscionable they would face intimidation and violence by those who kill innocents for political gain,” Cuilllier said.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, since 1992 more than 1,000 journalists have been killed serving the public — 30 so far this year. It was 12 years ago that Daniel Pearl of the Wall Street Journal also faced execution by terrorists.

Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. For more information about SPJ, please visit


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