American freelance journalist Lindsey Snell, who was detained in Turkey for violating a military zone, has been released and is returning to the US. Snell was held on 6 August after she crossed back into the country from Syria.
US State Department spokesman John Kirby had confirmed Snell's detention on 31 August. Kirby had said that Snell was being held at a prison facility in Hatay Province in southern Turkey and "has been charged with violating a military zone."
Snell earlier said she had been kidnapped by members of the militant group Jabhat Fateh Al-Sham — or former al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat Al-Nusra — in Syria in July. She said she managed to flee captivity with the help of Syrian contacts, but was arrested on her arrival in Turkey, amid a post-coup crackdown, which saw hundreds of journalists in jail.
She had posted about her kidnapping on her Facebook page.
Her profile on the social media site says she is a native of Florida, who has been living in Istanbul since March 2015. She left Turkey for Syria just before the failed coup attempt on 15 July.
"Lindsey Snell's release is a relief, but scores of journalists are still jailed in Turkey. We call on Turkish authorities to return Snell's confiscated equipment, and to free all the journalists still behind bars in the country for doing their jobs," Committee to Protect Journalists Europe and Central Asia Program coordinator Nina Ognianova said.
Speaking to the Guardian on her way back to New York, Snell said she was concerned for her husband, Suliman Wardak, who was arrested on 22 August while travelling to Istanbul to assist in her release.
"They still have my husband. I don't feel free," Snell said on Wednesday, 12 October.
Wardak has been accused of playing a role in the failed military coup and is being prevented from leaving the country.
Snell was depicted as a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) spy by the Turkish media. She said she was disappointed that there was no official statement from the US State Department saying she was a journalist.
"They know I'm a journalist. They knew I was working in this capacity in Syria. There was no reason to be vague or tight-lipped especially given the Turkish accusations against me," she said.