American reporter Simon Ostrovsky was released Thursday by pro-Russian separatists and is "free and safe," Jean-Francois Belanger, a CBC correspondent, wrote on his
Belanger posted a picture of Ostrovsky talking on his phone at the roadside and said that the journalist, who was taken hostage by separatists in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slovyansk Monday night, was heading to Donetsk in a CBC car.
The details of Ostrovsky's release were not immediately apparent. Belanger posted that Ostrovsky, a former Moscow Times reporter who has been filing a series of video reports from Ukraine for Vice News, said " he was beaten, blindfolded and hands tied" at first, but then treated well.
Self-proclaimed "people's mayor" of Slovyansk Vyacheslav Ponomaryov had said earlier that Ostrovsky was being held as a "bargaining chip," adding that separatist forces "need prisoners" because Ukrainian security forces had captured separatists.
Vice News issued a statement on its website Thursday evening saying that the news agency was delighted to confirm that Ostrovsky had been safely released and is in good health" but declined to make a further statement out of respect for Ostrovsky and his family's privacy.