The Guardian reports: Pro-Russian gunmen in Ukraine confirmed on Wednesday that they had taken hostage an American journalist, whom they were holding according to “war rules”, they said, in the town of Slavyansk.
Simon Ostrovsky, a correspondent for Vice News, had not been seen since early Tuesday. He had been covering the crisis in Ukraine for several weeks, first in Crimea and then in the east of the country. He had been following the activities of masked gunmen as they seized government buildings.
Ostrovsky had visited Slavyansk several times. The town has been under the control of a heavily armed pro-Russian militia since 6 April.
The rebels have seized the nearby police and security station, as well as the city hall, turning it into a sandbagged garrison, complete with sniper positions. Men suspected to be Russian soldiers have also been spotted in Slavyansk, together with irregular “Cossacks” from southern Russia.
Stella Khorosheva, a spokeswoman for the pro-Russian insurgents, said on Wednesday that Ostrovsky was being held at the local branch of the rebel-occupied Ukrainian security service. Separatists have blockaded access to the building with a large wall of tyres and debris. Outsiders are not admitted.
“He’s with us. He’s fine,” Khorosheva told the Associated Press on Wednesday. Asked why Ostrovsky was being held hostage, she said he was “suspected of bad activities”. She did not elaborate but said the insurgents were now conducting their own investigation.
Khorosheva later told journalists that Ostrovsky was suspected of spying for Right Sector, a far-right Ukrainian nationalist party, or other possible “enemy groups”.
Since an apparent shoot-out at a Slavyansk checkpoint on Sunday left three dead, the separatists have become increasingly aggressive. They have harassed western journalists turning up at checkpoints into the city. [Continue reading…]
This is the most recent report Ostrovsky filed for Vice News: