Good news: Less than a day after it was revealed that NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel was missing in Syria, NBC has confirmed that he and his production team have been returned to safety.
“After being kidnapped and held for five days inside Syria by an unknown group, NBC News Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel and his production crew members have been freed unharmed. We are pleased to report they are safely out of the country,” NBC News says in a statement.
Engel has entered into Syria several times in 2012 to report on the insurgency fighting against President Bashar al-Assad. This time when he and his team tried to enter on Dec. 13, they were detained, blindfolded and placed in the back of the truck. Fortunately they were not physically harmed, though they were bound and blindfolded.
Turkish media reported on the missing team, but NBC News asked that American media refrain from publishing rumors and speculation for fear that it would put Engel and those with him in danger. The news that he was missing spread through Twitter and was eventually reported on in the U.S. on Dec. 17, though NBC reached out to sites and asked them to remove their stories.
Last night, Engel and his crew were rescued and escorted safely out of Syria. While they were detained, NBC News had no contact with either Engel or his kidnappers. As of now, no one has taken responsibility for the act and there was no ransom sent out. They are currently being debriefed.
Engel first joined NBC in 2003, and he has been working as chief foreign correspondent since 2008. He has been the recipient of many prestigious accolades, including the Edward R. Murrow Award, Peabody Award and Medill Medal for Courage.