Saturday, January 20th, 2018

Thank You Domenico Quirico

 One of Italy’s most veteran war correspondents, La Stampa’s Domenico Quirico, was freed Sunday after being kidnapped in Syria in early April.

Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino greets freed war correspondent Domenico Quirico in RomeFoto: ANSA

“It’s like I’ve been living on Mars for the last five months . . . and I discovered that Martians are very bad”, said Quirico, 62, after landing in Rome on Sunday. “I tried to tell the story of the revolution, but it is possible the revolution betrayed me. It is not the revolution I knew two years ago in Aleppo: secular, tolerant. It has become something else.”
Exhausted but in good health, Quirico answered “not good” when asked by reporters how he was treated in captivity. It emerged Monday that he endured two false executions by pistol and was savagely beaten after escaping and being recaptured.
Renowned for his reports in dangerous war zones–including Mali, Somalia and Libya, Quirico entered Syria from Lebanon on 6th April. Belgian writer Pierre Piccinin, who had been kidnapped with the Italian reporter, was also released. Piccinin, in an interview with RTL TV, said today he felt a moral duty to disclose that he, along with Quirico, overheard a conversation between rebels about the use of chemical weapons. “It is not the government of Bashar al-Assad that used Sarin gas or other gas in the periphery of Damascus,” he was quoted as saying.
The release of Quirico marks a high-profile success for Foreign Minister Emma Bonino and Prime minister Enrico Letta, who said his government’s “hope was never extinguished . . . all the efforts put in place for a positive outcome were crowned with success.”
“We’ve been waiting for this great news since the day he disappeared five months ago,” La Stampa editor-in-chief Mario Calabresi wrote on his Twitter account.
Quirico’s story, likely to be told in the coming days in the pages of the Turin daily, La Stampa, is  a harrowing reminder that Syria continues to be one of the most dangerous places for journalists. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, at least 50 journalists have been killed in Syria since the conflict began. American war correspondent, Marie Colvin, died in Homs in 2012 while reporting on the Syrian conflict. A center for international reporting is being set up in her honor, but it is too late to thank her for her excellent dispatches.
As a regular reader of La Stampa, I’d like to take a few lines here just to say grazie to Domenico Quirico and those like him, who dare to go and risk never coming back, in order to bring the rest of us their unfiltered perspectives of the conflict as it is unfolding on the ground.
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