Vice News Video Reporter Detained In Ukraine Has Been Freed

Simon Ostrovsky
Simon Ostrovsky
 AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky

An American journalist working for Vice News was freed after being detained by pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine.

"VICE News is delighted to confirm that our colleague and friend Simon Ostrovsky has been safely released and is in good health," read a statement from the media outlet. "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."

Simon Ostrovsky told French news agency Agence France-Presse that he was well, although he had been beaten after being seized on Monday in Slavyansk. Speaking by telephone, the reporter said he was initially blindfolded and kept tied up.

"After a day and a half they took off the blindfold and untied my hands, then they treated me normally," he said. Ostrovsky was understood to be traveling to Donetsk, the regional capital of the largely Russian-speaking industrial and mining region.

Earlier, a local rebel chief, Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, the self-declared mayor of separatist Slaviansk, a town occupied by pro-Russian militants in eastern Ukraine, said that Ostrovsky would be "freed as soon as possible -- you can meet him then."

He was speaking to journalists in the town as Ukrainian army units loyal to the interim government in Kiev conducted an anti-terrorist operation that has already resulted in the deaths of up to five pro-Russian gunmen.

Russia has dubbed the operation an attack on Ukrainian civilians and launched military maneuvers on its border.

Ostrovsky was detained Monday night for reporting what the rebel mayor called false information. On Wednesday, when news of Ostrovsky's detention was made public, Ponomaryov had said the journalist's reports were "destabilizing for us."

He had claimed the reporter was being well treated, fed and kept "in a clean place," adding: "He is not a hostage but our guest. We only gave him a place of residence."

The U.S. government has expressed concern over the detention of the reporter and called on Russia to organize his immediate release.

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