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Slain journalists James Foley, Steven Sotloff remembered at D.C. ceremony

Shirley Sotloff, mother of the late journalist Steven Sotloff, spoke Monday at an event to rededicate a memorial to fallen journalists at the Newseum in Washington.Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA

WASHINGTON — John Foley appreciates the fact that his son James, an American journalist beheaded in Syria by the Islamic State group last year, has been honored on a memorial to journalists who lost their lives while reporting the news.

“Worse than dying or being murdered is being forgotten,” the elder Foley told a somber audience at the Newseum on Monday, during the annual rededication of its memorial.

James Foley, 40, is listed on a towering wall of glass panels featuring 2,271 names of those who have died since 1837. Adjacent to that is a wall of corresponding pictures, situated above the latest additions from 2014. The 14 names added this year represent more than 60 journalists who died reporting the news in 2014.


According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 17 journalists were killed in Syria last year, making it the deadliest place in the world for journalists for the third consecutive year. The wall doesn’t include the deaths from the Charlie Hebdo attack in January, although France is the deadliest in 2015 thus far.

Also added to the memorial Monday was Ronald Statzer, who fell to his death in 1982 while working on a story about hang gliding. Statzer’s death was brought to the Newseum’s attention last year.

Two Associated Press journalists, video journalist Simone Camilli and photographer Anja Niedringhaus, were among those honored Monday. Camilli, 35, died in an explosion while on assignment in the Gaza Strip. Niedringhaus, 48, was shot and killed at a security checkpoint in Afghanistan by a police commander who approached her car and opened fire with his AK-47.

AP correspondent Kathy Gannon was severely wounded in the attack that killed Niedringhaus. They were covering preparations for Afghanistan’s presidential elections. Gannon spoke at the memorial about what drives journalists to put their lives in peril in the quest for news.


“What brings us to countries so far from home is often a real desire to understand the world around us,” Gannon said. “We are driven to know the people behind the stories we read and the pictures that we see.”

Besides Camilli, Foley, and Niedringhaus, the other journalists memorialized were:

• Yusuf Ahmed Abukar, 27, killed by an explosive planted in his car in Somalia.

• Muftah Bu Zeid, 59, from Libya, fatally shot as he hand-delivered copies of his newspaper in Benghazi.

• Michel du Cille, 58, a three-time Pulitzer Prize winner, who suffered a heart attack while traveling to photograph Ebola victims in a remote part of Liberia.

• Rubylita Garcia, 52, shot dead by two gunmen in her home in the Philippines.

• Nils Horner, 51, shot in the head while on his way to conduct an interview in Afghanistan.

• Camille Lepage, 26, killed in an ambush in the Central African Republic.

• Irshad Mastoi, 34, killed when two gunmen burst into the offices of the Online International News Network in Pakistan.

• Pablo Medina, 53, killed in Paraguay while traveling through a region controlled by drug traffickers. His 19-year-old assistant, Antonia Almeda, also was killed.

• Luke Somers, 33, fatally wounded during a Navy SEAL rescue attempt at the compound where he was being held in Yemen.

Steven Sotloff, 31, like Foley, held hostage in Syria and beheaded.

• Vyacheslav Veremiy, 32, shot and killed when he stopped to film a group of armed masked men in Ukraine.