CNN has reported that a Ukrainian journalist working as their freelancer had been abducted by pro-Russian separatists Tuesday. The network, according to correspondent Ivan Watson, did not report on the incident earlier while it attempted to secure his release.
Armed men from the self-declared Donetsk People's Republic, led by an official named Alexandr Kalyussky, seized Anton Skiba outside of Donbass Palace Hotel after Skiba and a CNN crew returned from reporting on Malaysia Air Flight 17. Skiba had only worked with the network for a day as a fixer, translating and guiding the crew through the area.
Kalyussky and the DPR, according to CNN, accused Skiba of "terrorism" and of posting cash rewards for the killing of separatist fighters on his Facebook page. The accusations were later dropped; instead, the separatists later said Skiba had been using multiple forms of identification, along with different last names.
Organizations centered on press freedom have echoed CNN's call for Skiba's release, including the Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters Without Borders, and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. "I strongly condemn this incident. Journalists must not become targets just for fulfilling their professional duties," Dunja Mijatovic, representative for media freedom at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, told CNN.
Foreign correspondents are facing increased difficulty reporting the region. On Tuesday, a British reporter working for Russia Today went missing, along with a cameraman reporting for the Abkhazian Network News Agency.
CNN has launched a campaign on Twitter along with its broadcast, using the hashtag #FreeAnton:
CNN has not heard from Skiba since Wednesday, when he placed a short call to the station to say he was okay and being questioned by the DPR. The separatists have not responded to CNN's requests so far Thursday.