MOSCOW (Sputnik), Anastasia Levchenko – The International Press Institute (IPI) is extremely concerned over the safety of the British journalist forced to participate in an Islamic State (ISIL) propaganda video and calls for his immediate release, the IPI Director of Advocacy and Communications told Sputnik on Wednesday.
In the ISIL propaganda video "From Inside Halab [Aleppo]" released on Monday, British journalist John Cantlie, who is being held hostage, appeared as the presenter of a documentary about the advantages of Islamic State rule. Cantlie was taken captive by Islamist militants in Syria in 2012.
"IPI is extremely concerned for Mr. Cantlie's safety and we call for his immediate release. The videos in which he has appeared suggest his participation has been coerced, in violation of his rights. If those holding him wish to demonstrate that he truly holds the views expressed, they should free him and allow him to speak openly, without any suggestion of duress," Steven M. Ellis, director of advocacy and communications of IPI, a global organization promoting freedom of the press, told Sputnik.
In the 12-minute video Cantlie describes the "advance and stretch" of the militant group as "remarkable and breathtaking". He also speaks about its education system that allows them to "form the Mujahideen of the next generation" and praises sharia law.
Sharia law is "remarkably simple… For example, if you are convicted of robbery with the correct number of witnesses and such forth, you have your hand cut off. Sounds harsh, but you are not going to commit the same crime again and it will dissuade others from doing the same," the hostage claims.
"From Inside Halab [Aleppo]" is the most recent video in a series of similar films from Kobani, Syria, and Mosul, Iraq.
"It is unclear what immediate measures might be available to protect Mr. Cantlie. Nevertheless, our thoughts are with him and his family, and we hope for his safe return home," Ellis said.
The IPI director of advocacy and communications added that "the situation of all journalists that the group is holding – including those from the West, as well as those from the region – is extremely perilous."
The exact number of Westerners held captive by Islamic State is unknown. The militant group has already executed a number of British and US aid workers and journalists, including Alan Henning, David Haines, Peter Kassig, James Foley and Steven Sotloff.