Vice News reporter kidnapped in Ukraine is freed after being beaten, blindfolded

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Vice News reporter Simon Ostrovsky has been freed after being kidnapped by pro-Russian separatists in the Slaviansk city of eastern Ukraine, CBC News reporter J-Francois Belanger confirmed Thursday.

“Breaking: hostage Simon Ostrovsky is free and safe. He is with us in CBC car en route to Donetsk,” Mr. Belanger tweeted at 9:42 a.m.

Simon Ostrovsky says he was beaten, blindfolded and hands tied at first, then treated well,” the reporter added.

Vice News later confirmed: “VICE News is delighted to confirm that our colleague and friend Simon Ostrovsky has been safely released and is in good health. We would like to thank everyone for their support during this difficult time. Out of respect for Simon and his family’s privacy, we have no further statement at this time.”

The U.S. State Department said Wednesday it was “deeply concerned” with reports about Mr. Ostrovsky’s situation.

Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the kidnapping would violate terms of a de-escalation deal reached last week in Geneva, Business Insider reported.

“We are deeply concerned about the reports of a kidnapping of a U.S. citizen journalist in Slovyansk, Ukraine, reportedly at the hands of pro-Russian separatists,” Miss Psaki said.

“We condemn any such actions, and all recent hostage takings in eastern Ukraine, which directly violate commitments made in the Geneva joint statement,” she said. “We call on Russia to use its influence with these groups to secure the immediate and safe release of all hostages in eastern Ukraine. We have also raised our concerns with Ukrainian officials as they work with local authorities to try to de-escalate the security situation in and around Slovyansk.”

The city’s self-declared separatist mayor, Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, told a news conference Monday that his men were holding the journalist.

Mr. Ostrovsky had been covering the crisis in Ukraine for weeks. His last tweets were made Monday when he covered an earlier news conference by Mr. Ponomaryov.

“Sloviansk pro-Russia ‘mayor’ threatens to throw journalist out for ‘provocative’ question about former mayor being held under guard,” he said.

His last tweet read: “Now he’s not letting reporters leave the press conference: ‘you’ll go as you came in. In a group.’ That’s one way to guarantee coverage.”

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