Syrian hostage takers release Swiss aid worker

Syrian hostage takers release Swiss aid worker
Italian PM Matteo Renzi: tweeted news of the release. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP
A Swiss-Italian aid worker landed in Rome on Tuesday morning after being held hostage in Syria for more than a year, the Italian foreign ministry said.

Federico Motka arrived at Rome’s Ciampino airport this morning where he was greeted by Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini, the government said in a statement.

The Italian’s arrival was anticipated by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who in a tweet on Monday said: “I have just told Giovanna Motka that her son Federico, kidnapped more than a year ago, is returning and will be in Italy tomorrow.”

Motka was abducted from the Atmeh refugee camp, on the Syrian-Turkish border, on March 12th 2013.

The Italian ministry did not give details of the group responsible for his kidnapping or how he came to be freed, stating only that Motka’s freedom came thanks to the work of the government’s crisis unit and security services. 

Kidnappings are often kept under wraps while negotiations are underway, if a hostage’s safety is deemed to be put at risk by news reports.

In September an Italian journalist returned home five months after being taken captive by rebels close to the Syrian border with Lebanon.

Domenico Quirico, a veteran reporter for La Stampa newspaper, said that he and a fellow hostage were "treated like animals" by their captors.

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