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Richard Engel and Crew Freed in Syria

NBC News correspondent was kidnapped and held for five days 12/18/2012 08:51:44 AM Eastern

After having gone missing for five days in Syria, NBC News
chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel and his crew are safe and accounted
for, the network said early Tuesday.

"After being kidnapped and held for five days inside Syria
by an unknown group, NBC News Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel and his
production crew members have been freed unharmed," NBC said in a statement. "We
are pleased to report they are safely out of the country."

Engel and his crew appeared on the Today show Tuesday from Turkey to recount the harrowing experience.

"We're very happy to be doing this live shot today," Engel
said.

Engel said they were driving in Syria five days ago when a group
of gunman dragged them out of the car, put them into a truck and took them to a
series of safehouses and interrogation rooms.

They were blindfolded and bound, though they weren't
physically beaten or tortured, it was more psychological torture, Engel said. He
believes the group was made of loyalists to President Bashar al-Assad, who told
the crew they kidnapped them to use as an exchange from their prisoners being
held by rebel forces in Syria.

When the group encountered a rebel checkpoint, Engel and his
crew were able to escape and seek safety with the rebels until crossing into
Turkey.

Syria remains one of the most dangerous countries for journalists. Last February, Sunday Times' war reporter Marie Colvin and The New York Times' Anthony Shadid both died while covering the uprising there. In total, 28 journalists have been killed in Syria in 2012, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

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