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25 Apr, 2014 08:17

Detained Vice journalist Simon Ostrovsky released in east Ukraine

Detained Vice journalist Simon Ostrovsky released in east Ukraine

Simon Ostrovsky, a journalist for the New-York-based Vice News, has been freed by self-defense forces in Slavyansk, eastern Ukraine, after spending several days in detention.

Ostrovsky, who was detained on April 21, was finally released on Thursday.

Vice News is delighted to confirm that our colleague and friend Simon Ostrovsky has been safely released and is in good health. We would like to thank everyone for their support during this difficult time,” Jake Goldman, deputy communications director for Vice Media said in a statement. “Out of respect for Simon and his family’s privacy, we have no further statement at this time.

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

Vice journalist @simonostrovsky freed currently on way to Donetsk (via @belangerjf) http://t.co/VEWkRrxJ8epic.twitter.com/DLW5kPIGYx

— RT (@RT_com) April 24, 2014

Ostrovsky was sent to Slavyansk to cover the pro-federalization protest there. Prior to his detention, he had interviewed Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, the so-called ‘people’s mayor’ of Slavyansk, appointed by protesters. Ostrovsky questioned allegations put forward by Ponomaryov which laid the blame for a deadly attack at a checkpoint on the ultra-nationalist Right Sector group.

Ponomaryov explained that protesters were not going to do the journalist any harm. He added that Ostrovsky, who has dual US and Israeli citizenship, was believed to be an informant for the far-right Right Sector group, blamed for inciting violence in the region.

Nobody abducted [him], nobody holds [him] hostage, he is now with us,” he later said at a news conference. Ponomaryov added that Ostrovsky was now “working, preparing materials.”

British reporter Graham Phillips attempted several times to help secure Ostrovsky’s release.

RT's stringer @GrahamWP_UK says @SimonOstrovsky is being held at #Slavyansk city hall, self-def forces say he will be free within minutes

— RT (@RT_com) April 22, 2014

The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatović, quickly reacted to the situation by expressing concern over the security of journalists in eastern Ukraine. She called for Ostrovsky’s immediate release and urged an end to “the harassment and attacks on journalists” so they can “do their job.”