American journalist Lindsey Snell, who was kidnapped by members of the militant group Jabhat Fateh Al-Sham – or former al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat Al-Nusra – in Syria in July and managed to escape her captors in early August, has been arrested for violating a military zone in Turkey.
US state department spokesman John Kirby confirmed on Wednesday (31 August) that Snell was being held at a prison facility in Hatay Province in southern Turkey. The woman was earlier kidnapped by militants and posted on her Facebook account that she had escaped from their captivity on 5 August. Her profile on the social networking site mentions that she is a native of Florida, but has been living in Istanbul since March 2015.
Addressing the media, Kirby said: "I can confirm that US citizen Lindsey Snell was detained in Turkey on the 7th of August, 2016.....Consular officers from the consulate in Adana visited Ms. Snell most recently on the 26th of this month and are providing all possible consular assistance."
When asked if the detention was related to the woman's profession, the state department spokesman said that he was not sure of that. He pointed out that the woman had travelled to Turkey from Syria.
"What we understand is that she has been charged with violating a military zone, but I can't speak to her reasons for being in Syria, for traveling there. I can't speak to that. What I can tell you is that we've been informed she was charged with violating a military zone," Kirby said.
Kirby added that state department officials have communicated with Turkish government officials with regards to Snell's detention and they are "following this case closely". Her Facebook post shows that she had visited Syria to fulfill the "dying wish" of one of the slain militants of Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, who had wanted her to see his family after his death.
She mentioned that she was kidnapped despite being a guest of the family and had permission to film them.
"A little over two weeks ago, Jabhat Fateh al Sham (or as they were then known, Jabhat al Nusra, al Qaeda's Syrian affiliate) 'arrested' (kidnapped) me. They did this in spite of the fact that I had permission to film in their areas, that I was staying with the family of one of their recent martyrs (it had been his dying wish that I come to Syria to see his family after he passed), AND that I am myself a Muslim. Two days ago, with the help of an incredible, selfless badass, I managed to escape," the Facebook post read.
She added that she had convinced her captors to give her a phone, which in turn helped her to plan her escape. She also used the phone to document her captivity.