Rome, May 22 (IANS/AKI) Kidnappers have “recently” released Italian national Alessandro Sandrini, the hardline militant group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, which largely controls the embattled northwest Syrian province of Idlib, said on Wednesday.
Sandrini had been held by a gang that demanded ransom, according to Hayat Tahrir al-Sham’s administrative arm, the so-called ‘Salvation government’ said in a statement carried by the Sham news agency.
For his personal safety, the ‘Salvation government’ had undertaken “indirect” negotiations with Sandrini’s captors and has been in touch with Italian authorities to arrange his handover, the statement quoted the anti-government group’s ‘Deputy Interior Minister’ Ali Kaddah as saying.
There was no immediate confirmation by the Italian government of Sandrini’s release.
Sandrini, 32, who is from the northern Italian city of Folzano, vanished in October 2016 after flying to the southern Turkish city of Adana for a week’s holiday. He called his mother a year later to say he had been abducted and did not know where he was or who was holding him. In subsequent, increasingly desperate phone calls, he said his abductors wanted money and begged his family to help him.
In a video published by US terrorism tracking organisation SITE last July, Sandrini, clad in an orange jumpsuit and flanked by rifle-toting masked gunmen, asked the Italian government to help secure his release, saying: “They will kill me.”