Foreign Policy Blogs

Jordanian Journalist and Crew Missing, Possibly Kidnapped

bakar atyani

Photo of kidnapped journalist Baker Atyani. Photo credit: AP

Media reports on the disappearance of Jordanian Al Arabiya TV journalist Baker Atyani and his two local crew members in the Philippines have published conflicting information in the last two days.

According to the most recent reports, the crew was possibly kidnapped while working in the southern Philippines.

The Philippine Star says of the case:

ZAMBOANGA CITY—Malacañang and authorities in Sulu still would not confirm reports that Jordanian journalist Baker Abdulla Atyani and his Filipino companions Ramelito Vela and Rolando Letrero were abducted in Sulu.

This despite the claims made by Mindanao State University Prof. Octavio Dinampo, himself a former kidnap victim, that Atyani’s group was indeed kidnapped.

“What I know is that the group had been kidnapped. Their whereabouts or which group is responsible? That is still being verified,” Dinampo, who is based in Sulu as member of a local ceasefire group, said.

Atyani, bureau chief of the Al-Arabiya News Network in Southeast Asia, and his group were scheduled to leave for Manila on June 13, a day after their arrival on the island province of Sulu.

But Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said it was not correct to say that Atyani and his crew were kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf after they disappeared since leaving their hostel on Tuesday.

“You can’t even put the incident in that category yet. They are still considered missing and efforts are being extended to locate them,” Valte told government radio dzRB.

The Sun Star reports, however, that the crew was kidnapped and a ransom demand has been made:

Police authorities suspected the three were kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf bandits, who reportedly demanded a P50-million ransom. The Integrated Police Operation Western Mindanao received an unconfirmed report saying the three were held captive by Yasser Igasa, leader of the Abu Sayyaf group in Sulu province, according to a radio report.

“The government holds a no ransom policy — that has not changed,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in an interview over government-run Radyo ng Bayan.



Genevieve Belmaker

Genevieve Belmaker is a freelance journalist and contributing editor with The Epoch Times ( She also contributes to Quill, the magazine of the Society of Professional Journalists and Her blog on journalism is

Genevieve has traveled throughout the U.S., Asia, Central America, Israel and the West Bank for reporting assignments, including major investigative reports on the recovery of New Orleans, the encroaching presence of China in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, the dangerous import of melamine-contaminated milk into the U.S. and settlement outposts in the West Bank. She regularly reports on issues related to journalism, and the work of journalists.

She holds a BA from the University of Southern California in International Relations, and has been a member of several prominent national and international professional media organizations, including the Society of Professional Journalists, Investigative Reporters and Editors, the International Women’s Media Foundation, the New York Press Club, and the Newswomen’s Club of New York. She lives in Jerusalem, Israel with her husband and son.

Areas of Focus:
New Media; Journalism; Culture and Society