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Mediator working for release of journalist Junpei Yasuda ‘withdraws’

‘Please help. This is the last chance.” – Junpei Yasuda
“Please help. This is the last chance” — Junpei Yasuda

TOKYO (TR) – A Syrian man claiming to be negotiating for the release of an abducted journalist Junpei Yasuda has decided to end his efforts, it was learned early Wednesday, reports Sports Nippon (June 29).

The negotiator said via another Syrian person’s Facebook account that the negotiator failed to free the 42-year-old freelance journalist from his captors, saying that the Japanese government has not cooperated.

“We have been serving as the mediator but the Japanese government did not respond to the requests of the captors, and the mediation has failed,” the person wrote, according to Fuji News Network (June 29). “We will withdraw from negotiations.”

Yasuda went missing in July of 2015, shortly after secretly crossing into Syria from Turkey. He went into the country to report on issues such as the execution of freelance journalist Kenji Goto, who was killed after being captured by Islamic State militants that same year.

Al-Nusra Front, a Sunni Islamist militia aligned with al-Qaida, is believed to have captured Yasuda. They are said to be seeking a ransom.

Last month, a photo that surfaced on social media showed a person believed to be Yasuda holding a sign that read: “Please help. This is the last chance.”  The image was obtained by the negotiator, whose side indicated that a one-month deadline was in place for the Japanese government to start negotiations.

The Syrian mediator added in the message from Wednesday that the current health and well-being of Yasuda is unknown.