MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – Islamist militants in the Philippines have freed a reporter with the Pan-Arabic Al-Arabiya news channel after holding him captive for 18 months, the Dubai-based broadcaster said.
Jordanian reporter Baker Atyani, who was kidnapped in June 2012, is now free and receiving medical care in a hospital in the Philippines, said Mazen Hayek, spokesman for MBC, the parent group of Al-Arabiya.
Atyani was handed over to authorities in the remote island of Jolo by the kidnappers, who belong to the Abu Sayyaf Islamist movement, Al-Arabiya's statement said.
"The Philippines authorities are now responsible for ensuring his safe return to his family in Jordan," the statement added.
Atyani and two Filipino crew members went missing in June last year in Jolo, a stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf Group, a small Islamist movement that has been blamed for a string of attacks and kidnappings.
In February the militants released the two crew members, who said they were separated from Atyani on the 5th day of their captivity.
The Abu Sayyaf Group was founded with seed money from Osama bin Laden's brother-in-law and what later became known as the Al Qaeda network. Its ostensible goal was to fight for an independent Islamic state, though it later turned into a criminal gang.