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Video Released of Japanese Journalist Captured in Syria

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A video surfaced Thursday of Japanese freelance journalist Junpei Yasuda for the first time since he was believed to be taken hostage by the al-Nusra Front in Syria last year.

“I want to hug you, I want to talk with you, but I can’t anymore,” Yasuda said in the video, directing his comments to his family, The New York Times reports. Yasuda did not reveal his location or express any demands on behalf of his captors.

In the video, Yasuda sits at a table and at one point says the date is March 16, his birthday. Japanese chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga confirmed the man appears to be Yasuda, and said the government is investigating the video in efforts to respond.

The al-Nusra Front, an Islamist militant group, is an Al Qaeda affiliate branch opposing Syrian government forces. Yasuda has previously been taken captive in Iraq and was released following Japanese negotiations in 2004.


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Write to Julia Zorthian at julia.zorthian@time.com