Anton Skiba, the CNN freelancer abducted in the Ukraine, is said to still be in detention after being taken by pro-Russian separatists in the area of Donetsk in the Ukraine. CNN says that Skiba is a Ukrainian journalist who has been working with them as a freelancer. The network did not report on his abduction after it initially happened as they were working quietly to obtain his release. Now, however, they are making things public in hopes that it will help free him.
CNN‘s abducted freelance journalist was seized by armed men outside a Donetsk hotel. Anton Skiba had only been working with the network as a freelancer for one day when he was taken. Reports indicate that Skiba was confronted Tuesday evening when he returned to the Donbass Palace Hotel after reporting from the site of the MH17 crash.
A senior official from the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic named Alexandr Kalyussky, who identifies himself as the deputy prime minister in charge of industry, leveled multiple accusations toward the freelance journalist. Skiba was accused of “terrorism” and of posting financial rewards on his Facebook page for the killing of separatist fighters. The journalist was then taken to a waiting car and he is said to have not resisted.
A network cameraman, Jeff Kehl, tried to film as the CNN freelancer was abducted in the Ukrainian area. His phone was taken away by those with Kalyussky. The phone was later returned, but Kalyussky demanded that the video of the incident be deleted. Kalyussky later spoke with CNN and dropped the allegations that Skiba had been enticing assassinations. However, other accusations of wrongdoing were made. Supposedly Skiba later admitted to being a “Ukrainian agent.”
Many officials and organizations are advocating for Skiba’s release, and the journalist himself was allowed to call the network briefly on Wednesday. It seems as of Thursday, the separatists have stopped responding to the network. Skiba had previously worked with the BBC and the Russian Reporter. Alexandr Kalyussky is one of several Donetsk People’s Republic officials whose name has been added to the European Union sanctions notice, a list of Ukrainian people whose assets are subject to financial sanctions due to their activities in the conflict.
The U.S. ambassador to Ukraine has shared that he is “very alarmed” by the situation regarding the CNN freelancer abducted in the Ulraine. Many are closely following the developing story and hope that Anton Skiba’s release and safety can be orchestrated soon.
[Image via Lawrence Crook CNN Twitter]