The abducted Lebanese journalist Fidaa Itani
Beirut - Georges Chahine
The abducted Lebanese journalist Fidaa Itani has reassured that he was in good health in a YouTube video uploaded on Sunday.
In the video uploaded by his abductors - a Syrian rebel group calling itself the Aazaz Northern Storm Brigade - Itani said he was in good health, clarifying that he is "under house arrest".
"I am the journalist Fidaa Itani. I am under house arrest by the Northern Storm Battalion in Azaz and I am fine," Itani said in the short clip.
In a statement published on their website, the Aazaz Northern Storm Brigade said that Itani was in their custody due to security reasons.
The statement pointed out that Itani was not arrested because of his nationality or political affiliation and that he will be asked to leave the Syrian territory after a few days.
Syrian rebel fighters in the Aazaz area posted on their Facebook page Saturday that they had detained Itani.
They assured that they will free him as soon as the necessary documents and information about him are acquired.
Itani, who works for LBC television and other news channels, was detained “because his work is incompatible with the path of the Syrian revolution and rebels,” they posted on their page.
They pointed out that "rports and videos have not proven yet Itani's involvement with any party that works against the revolution, but his presence as a journalist no longer receives approval in areas controlled by the rebels".
Meanwhile, Lebanon's Information Minister Walid Daouk said that Itani’s arrest "violates the essence of press freedom, which should be above all considerations and political divisions, because the journalist merely fulfils his professional role when covering events objectively".
Daouk called on all relevant people to work relentlessly on releasing Itani as soon as possible.
Elias Aoun, chairman of the Journalists Union, has also condemned Itani's abduction: "He is not biased to any group or against another, especially given that he built good ties with the leaders of a number of armed groups fighting in Syria. His abduction has nothing to do with the principles and morals of our Syrian brothers."
Aoun urged the Union of Arab Journalists, the Union of Syrian Journalists, the Association of Syrian Journalists, and Turkish officials and journalists to "intervene immediately to release Itani, who was assuming his duty".
"Itani did not commit any crime; he was following up on the news of the nine kidnapped Lebanese, who have nothing to do with the Syrian conflict."
A Lebanese ministerial committee tasked with following up on the case of the Lebanese pilgrims and Itani will convene Monday.
Eleven Lebanese pilgrims were kidnapped by rebels in the northern province of Aleppo on May 22 as they were returning home from a pilgrimage in Iran.
One of the abductees was released in August in what his captors said was a "goodwill" gesture and another was released in September.
The kidnappers had repeatedly linked the release of the Lebanese captives to Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, a close ally of the Syrian regime, apologising for his support to the Syrian regime since the outbreak of the pro-democracy uprising in March 2011.