AMMAN, Jordan (Asharq Al-Awsat and Agencies) – Two American journalists who went missing during a vacation in Lebanon say they were “kidnapped” and taken by force into Syria, where they were held in custody for a week before being released.
The two, Taylor Luck, 23, and Holli Chmela, 27, spoke to their newspaper Jordan Times upon returning home to Jordan early Friday. They were released on Thursday in Damascus, which said they had crossed the border illegally with the help of smugglers.
Luck is quoted as saying the two had hired a taxi driver to take them from Lebanon to Syria.
Instead of driving to an official border crossing where they would get an entry visa for Syria, the driver went off the main road and “locked the doors.” Later they were taken into a Syrian military car.
Lebanon’s Minister of Interior confirmed that the journalists did not leave Lebanon via any official border.
The editor-in-chief of the Jordan Times, Samir Barhoum, told Asharq Al-Awsat that Taylor Luck would not have left for Syria without an entrance visa and that he obtained a visa from Amman. The US State Department said that Syrian authorities had released the journalists who are now at the American embassy in Damascus.