Journo Escapes After 5 Months in Captivity

Says she was held by Syrian rebels, defends Assad's regime

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 12, 2013 8:12 AM CDT

(Newser) – A Ukrainian journalist who was kidnapped in Syria on Oct. 9, reportedly by rebels, managed to escape yesterday, she tells RIA Novosti. "I took a terrible risk, as I had to walk across an area leading on to minefields," Ankhar Kochneva says. "I walked and walked, and the first person I met was the one I needed. I met normal people who helped me to get to the army's side." She says she was held by the Free Syrian Army for a $50 million ransom. "I thought they would have killed me eventually and would say that it was the army who did it," she notes, per CNN. "So I made a decision to escape."

The kidnappers' "living conditions are poor and my conditions were even worse," she recounts, adding that she expects to undergo lengthy medical treatment as a result of her captivity. She describes losing 66 pounds and being kept in a room with a broken window all winter. Kochneva voiced support for the regime against the rebels, CNN notes. "Everyone shouts that Syria is doing something wrong, but I'm sorry, what should it do? What would, for example, Germany do if someone would destroy its railway, kidnap its people, and ask money for them, kill them? ... The world has gone blind."

In this Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013 photo, a Free Syrian Army fighter, right, watches Syrian villagers passing a checkpoint at the Christian village of Yacobiyeh, Syria.
In this Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013 photo, a Free Syrian Army fighter, right, watches Syrian villagers passing a checkpoint at the Christian village of Yacobiyeh, Syria.   (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
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