The murder of journalist Steven Sotloff is a war crime

English PEN shocked to learn of the killing of freelance journalist Steven Sotloff by Islamic State

A video showing the beheading of 31-year-old American journalist Steven Sotloff was discovered on 2 September by the SITE Intelligence Group and has since been confirmed as authentic by the White House.

Jo Glanville, Director of English PEN said, ‘Islamic State’s brutal murder of the American journalists Steven Sotloff and James Foley, in the space of two weeks, is the most shocking example of the dangers facing journalists on the front line today. Syria is now one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists, who are taking great risks to get the story out. Journalists working in the region are performing a vital job for society and, as civilians, are protected under international humanitarian law. Islamic State’s calculated savagery is a war crime.’

Steven Sotloff, a freelance journalist who wrote for TIME, CSM, and the Diplomat, was abducted in Syria in 2013. However, his kidnap was not widely reported until his appearance in the footage of the brutal murder of fellow US journalist James Foley in August 2014. Following this appearance, his mother Shirley released a televised appeal, directly addressing the leader of Islamic State and calling for her son’s release, in which she described him as ‘a journalist who made a journey to cover the story of Muslims suffering at the hands of tyrants’. Our thoughts are with Steven’s friends, colleagues and family.

In both videos, the brutal murders are described as being in retaliation for ongoing US airstrikes, with threats that there will be further murders if the strikes continue. There are now widespread concerns that a British hostage is also at risk.

English PEN remains deeply concerned for all journalists missing in Syria as well as for the many writers and activists currently detained by the Assad regime and on trial in violation of their right to freedom of expression.


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