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2 American Journalists Released from Questioning in Syria

According to the New York Times, two missing American journalists were released to the American Embassy in Lebanon on Thursday and are on their way back to Jordan, family members and embassy officials said.
The two young Americans, Holli Chmela, 27, and Taylor Luck, 23, arrived in Lebanon a week and a half ago on a visit from Jordan, where they both worked for The Jordan Times. Nobody had heard from them since they told friends they were on their way to Syria, via northern Lebanon, on Oct. 1.
Several bombings have taken place in northern Lebanon in recent months, so the lack of communication with the pair led to an intensive search beginning Wednesday. Fears had risen that the journalists had been kidnapped.
On Thursday, the Syrian state news agency said the Americans were being detained and questioned for using a smuggler to cross into Syria illegally. A few hours later, they were turned over to the U.S. Embassy in Syria.
According to the article, Syria is extremely sensitive when it comes to immigration and security. Entering the country without a visa would be both difficult and naïve, especially for Americans. Foreigners’ passports are routinely checked for visas.
Last month, thousands of Syrian troops were sent to the border with northern Lebanon in what was said to be an attempt to fight smuggling.
During a phone interview from her home in Massachusetts, Chmela’s mother, Amy Chmela, said she spoke to her daughter on Thursday but didn't know where her daughter and Luck had been while they were missing or how they had gotten into Syria. She said the two intended to return to Jordan late on Thursday.
“I am thrilled,? she said. “She’s fine. She’s been through an ordeal, but there was no time for her to give us details.?
While working at The Jordan Times, Chmela was studying Arabic. Luck, originally from Chicago, is a reporter at the newspaper.