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MENAFN - Jordan Times - 23/08/2012

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Bashar Fahmi Al Qadoumi
(MENAFN - Jordan Times) Jordanian officials announced on Wednesday they were following up on the fate of a Jordanian journalist allegedly arrested by Syrian forces earlier this week, vowing to exert "all efforts" to secure his release.

According to Government Spokesperson Samih Maaytah, the Foreign Ministry has inquired in Damascus over the whereabouts of Bashar Fahmi Al Qadoumi, a Jordanian reporter employed by the US-based Al Hurra network who reportedly went missing in the restive city of Aleppo on Monday.

"We were informed by Al Hurra of Qadoumi's disappearance and the Foreign Ministry is in contact with the Syrian authorities over his whereabouts," Maaytah, who is also minister of state for media affairs and communications, told The Jordan Times.

If Qadoumi is being held in Syrian custody, Maaytah stressed that Amman will take "all necessary measures" to ensure his safe return.

In a statement issued late Wednesday afternoon, Al Hurra TV announced that it had lost contact with Qadoumi and his camerawoman since they entered Aleppo on Monday, voicing concern that the two were apprehended by Syrian authorities.

The network did not clarify in the statement whether the two had entered the restive city, which has been the centre of a fierce pitched battle between rebel and regime forces over the past two weeks, legally.

The incident comes at what officials describe as a "low-point" in relations between Amman and Damascus, whose ties have been strained by Jordan's ongoing policy of receiving regime defectors and Syria's targeting of refugees fleeing into the Kingdom.

Officials say recent tensions between the two countries, which hit an all-time high on Sunday after the landing of four "errant" Syrian missiles in northern Jordan, will likely serve as an "obstacle" to efforts to secure Qadoumi's release.

"Right now Jordan is not in the strongest position to request or pressure Damascus to release one of our citizens," said a government source, who preferred to remain unnamed.

Despite the recent souring of ties, the source expressed hope that Damascus may grant Qadoumi's release as a "goodwill gesture" to atone for the diplomatic fallout of Sunday's incident.

Although Amman summoned Syrian Ambassador in Amman Bahjat Suleiman in protest over Sunday's incident, which left one child and several others injured, government officials have repeatedly stressed that there were no plans to expel the envoy.


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