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The Latest: Japanese freed from Syria confirms he is well

TOKYO (AP) – The Latest on a Japanese freelance journalist freed from Syria (all times local):

7:15 p.m.

A Japanese freelance journalist who was kidnapped three years ago in Syria says he is well and safe in Turkey.

Jumpei Yasuda spoke in brief videotaped comments in English carried online Wednesday by Japanese public broadcaster NHK.

He said he was safe in Turkey after being held for 40 months.

Yasuda has been at an immigration center in southern Turkey near the border with Syria since he was freed Tuesday.

He was kidnapped in 2015 by al-Qaida’s branch in Syria.

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6:30 p.m.

Japan has confirmed that a man freed from Syria is a Japanese freelance journalist who was kidnapped three years ago and says he appears to be in good health.

Foreign Minister Taro Kono said Japanese Embassy officials met with Jumpei Yasuda at an immigration center in southern Turkey near the border with Syria, where Yasuda has been protected since he was freed Tuesday.

Yasuda was kidnapped in 2015 by al-Qaida’s branch in Syria, and has been held by several groups since then.

Suga said no ransom was paid for Yasuda’s release.

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4 p.m.

Japan was anxiously awaiting confirmation Wednesday that a man freed from Syria is a freelance journalist kidnapped three years ago.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters he was relieved by the news and is anxious to get the man’s identify confirmed. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga has said the man is most likely Jumpei Yasuda and he is now in Turkey.

“I would like to get confirmation that he is Mr. Yasuda himself as quickly as possible,” Abe said.

Yasuda was kidnapped in 2015 by al-Qaida’s branch in Syria, known at the time as Nusra Front, after his contact was lost in June that year. A war monitoring group said he was most recently held by a Syrian commander with the Turkistan Islamic Party, which mostly comprises Chinese jihadis in Syria.

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