News Reporters Who Were Kidnapped And Held Hostage

It's a dangerous world. With that fact and the very prevalent 24-hour news cycle, more and more journalists are being targeted, taken against their will, and sometimes even slain. Currently, The Press Freedom Barometer listed on the Reporters Without Borders website reports six journalists terminated and 166 imprisoned as of April 2019. Unfortunately, this number will likely rise. From Ukraine to Baghdad to Lebanon to inside the United States, the practice of enemies taking or harming reporters is not new. However, this horrible act has become more commonplace as the years have progressed. 

The following list documents a handful of instances in which reporters have been taken or held at gunpoint around the world. We celebrate those who have returned home safely, mourn those whose lives were lost, and pray for those brave souls still unaccounted for.

  • Richard Engel is an American journalist and foreign correspondent who works for NBC News. On December 13, 2012, Richard Engel and his crew were dragged from their car in Syria. Throughout their capture, they were moved to various locations and psychologically tortured.

    Held for a total of five days, it is still uncertain why they were taken and who was responsible. 

  • Dimitar Kenarov (Crimea, 2014)

    Dimitar Kenarov is a freelance journalist who has written publications in American and European media. On March 6, 2014, it was reported that Kenarov was accosted by masked men while in Crimea's Simferopol. The incident happened while he was sitting in a restaurant taking photos with his mobile phone.

    Marked, armed men entered and put a gun to his head. They proceeded to take his phone, his friend's camera equipment and then sped off in an unmarked van.

  • Gregorio Jiménez De La Cruz (Veracruz, 2014)
    Video: YouTube

    Gregorio Jiménez De La Cruz (Veracruz, 2014)

    Gregorio Jiménez De La Cruz was a Mexican journalist who was taken on February 5, 2014. His remains were soon found along with those of two others in the municipality of Las Choapas in Veracruz. De La Cruz covered crime and security for the newspapers Notisur and Liberal del Sur, which recently included local abductions and aggression towards migrants.

    The authorities determined that De La Cruz's neighbor, Teresa de Jesús Hernandez Cruz, paid off several hitmen to eliminate the journalist.

  • James Foley (Syria, 2012-2014)
    Video: YouTube

    On November 22, 2012, James Foley was taken by unidentified gunmen in northern Syria. An American freelance war reporter, Foley was no stranger to being grabbed, as he was held captive a year prior by pro-Gaddafi forces in Libya. 

    In August of 2014, ISIS released a video of fighters removing the head of a man who has been identified as Foley.


  • Tyler Hicks And Crew (Lybia, 2011)
    Video: YouTube

    Tyler Hicks is a Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times photographer. On March 15, 2011, Hicks and three other journalists were taken in Eastern Libya by pro-Gaddafi forces while en-route to Benghazi. Pulled from their car, the Beirut bureau chief Anthony Shadid, reporter Stephen Farrell, and photographer Lynsey Addario all fled the scene only to be captured in a nearby house. 

    The four of them were bound, gagged, interrogated, and beaten for a handful of days before finally being released.

  • Euna Lee And Laura Ling (North Korea, 2009)

    In late March 2009, North Korea announced it had detained two American journalists for illegally entering the country. Weeks later, they officially announced that Laura Ling and fellow journalist Euna Lee were the ones detained. The reason for this action was their failed attempt at filming refugees along the North Korean border with China.

    The two were sentenced to 12 years in a labor prison for their unauthorized entry into North Korea, along with other unspecified hostile acts. The two were finally released in August of that year after former US President Bill Clinton made an unannounced visit to the country. 

    A year later, Laura Ling and her sister Lisa co-wrote the memoir Somewhere Inside: One Sister's Captivity in North Korea and the Other's Fight to Bring Her Home.