Reuters is reporting that two of its journalists, Ayat Basma and Ezzat Baltaji, are missing:
Beirut-based producer Ayat Basma and cameraman Ezzat Baltaji had been expected to cross into Lebanon by road at approximately 1830 GMT (2:30 p.m. ET) on Saturday, where they had arranged for a taxi to pick them up from the border.
The last known contact was at 1722 GMT (1:22 p.m. ET), when Baltaji sent a phone message to a colleague in Beirut in which he said: “We will leave now.”
Basma and Baltaji, both Lebanese nationals, travelled to Syria on Thursday afternoon. Mass protests that erupted 10 days ago have posed the biggest challenge to President Bashar al-Assad’s 11-year rule.
The two journalists have been unreachable by telephone since Saturday night.
Reuters will be sending a senior editor to Damascus to look into the matter with the authorities there. Interestingly enough:
On Friday, Syrian authorities withdrew the accreditation of Reuters text correspondent Khaled Yacoub Oweis, saying he had filed “unprofessional and false” coverage of events in Syria.
Reuters of course stands by their journalist’s coverage of the events on the ground.
Update – March 29, 2011
International news agency Reuters says two of its journalists detained by Syrian authorities have been released.
Reuters said Monday its television producer Ayat Basma and cameraman Ezzat Baltaji, both Lebanese nationals, have returned to Lebanon. It says they were detained by Syrian authorities on Saturday.