I has informed us that they detained two American citizens as they tried to cross into Syria. We are working with the Syrian government now to confirm they are Mr Luck and Miss Chmela and to gain access to them. For Privacy Act reasons we cannot say more about this case at this time.”
EDB (a Western reporter in the Middle East) sent me this (I cite with her permission): “What’s funny about the American journalists who were “missing” is that Americans can not get visas at the border to enter Syria. So, there is no way the were planning on doing that “legally.” Since at least 2006, Americans need to get a visa at a Syrian embassy, which is why Americans in Lebanon cannot simply cross over to Syria anymore.
Very strange story. I buy the version that they wanted to see how porous the border with Syria is more. And about Taylor Luck: I don’t know him but his facebook profile includes favored activities such as: public urination. He has a photo album entitled, “Ancient Thebes and other things I pissed on. As you said, imagine if Syrian journalists snuck into the US. They would disappear for 3 years and end up in Guantanamo for a further 4.”
Posted by As’ad at 11:29 AM
The fate of two American journalists suspected to have gone missing in Lebanon isn’t anymore unknown…
Indeed, while some Lebanese figures started warning against the seriousness of the “incident,” claiming that it “harmed” the country’s “reputation and dignity,” it has been reported that the journalists were arrested in Syria for attempting to illegally cross the border.
Holli Chmela, 27, and Taylor Luck, 23, went missing earlier this week after checking out of their Beirut hotel on October 1, when they told friends they had departed the Lebanese capital en route to Tripoli and Aleppo. Their families raised the alarm when they received no news of their whereabouts for days.
The US State Department said Thursday it is “greatly relieved” that the two young American journalists who went missing in Lebanon have turned up safe in Syria.
“We are greatly relieved that the two are safe,” the department’s deputy spokesman Robert Wood said after noting that the Syrian government confirmed to the US embassy in Damascus that two detained people are the missing reporters.
In Damascus, the Syrian foreign ministry said that the Syrian authorities arrested Americans Holly Chmela and Taylor Luck because “they illegally entered Syrian territory this morning with the help of a smuggler.”
The ministry statement said the pair were being questioned to find out how they entered “without the necessary visas” but they will be turned over to the US embassy in Damascus once the “necessary procedures are completed.”
Wood, reading from a State Department statement, said the US embassy in Damascus was “seeking consular access” to the pair. “The Syrian government has confirmed to our embassy in Damascus that two Americans detained while attempting to cross into Syria are
Miss Chmela and Mr. Luck, the subject of an extensive search by the US and Lebanese governments,” he said.
“The US embassies in Beirut and Damascus, in coordination with department officials, in Washington worked actively to pursue all possible leads in our efforts to locate Miss Chmela and Mr. Luck as soon as they were reported missing,” he said.
Asked whether the two journalists have been charged with any offense in Damascus, a US official said on the condition of anonymity: “Not to my knowledge, no, they haven’t been.”