Japan Authorities Seize Passport of Photojournalist

Journalist Yuichi Sugimoto was barred from going to Syria for his own safety.

The Japanese government seized a passport of photojournalist Yuichi Sugimoto, not allowing him to travel to Syria, reports the BBC. According to authorities they seized the passport in order to protect the life of the photojournalist. The 59 year old photographer was planning a trip to Syria on February 27th. He describes the move as a threat to freedom of speech.

In January, two Japanese hostages were killed by ISIS militants in Syria. Sugimoto said that he did not have any intention to go to the areas controlled by terrorists.

Japanese sources say that the government took this step for the first time. Representatives of the Foreign Ministry said the passport was confiscated according to the Japanese law – it’s legislation allows for cases of protection of the passport holder’s life.

A similar, but not so radical, step was taken by the British Sunday Times and Press Gazette. These publications refused to publish Syrian stories written by freelancers due to the high risk to the journalists.

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