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Sunday 24 September 2017

'Closure is my most hated word' - Mum of missing Irish journalist issues appeal to help find her son

Missing Irish journalist Jonathan Spollen Photo: Facebook/Find Jonathan Spollen
Missing Irish journalist Jonathan Spollen Photo: Facebook/Find Jonathan Spollen
Amy Molloy

Amy Molloy

This day five years ago, Irish journalist Jonathan Spollen was reported missing after vanishing without a trace on his travels in India.

His family last spoke to him on February 3 2012, when his mother Lynda chatted to him over the phone for six minutes.

From Ranelagh, Dublin, he had been working as a freelance writer and editor and had been with the International Herald Tribune.

Many theories about what may have happened to the Dubliner have emerged since his disappearance.

Missing Irish journalist Jonathan Spollen Picture: Find Jonathan Spollen/Facebook
Missing Irish journalist Jonathan Spollen Picture: Find Jonathan Spollen/Facebook

After telling his mother about plans to go trekking in the foothills of the Himalayas, it was feared he could have been attacked by a wild animal in the area after leopards have been sighted in the weeks before he went missing.

Spollen's backpack, passport and sleeping bag were found around a waterfall in the Rishikesh area and the routes around it were closed off because of wild animals in recent years.

However, police investigating the case said there was no sign of a struggle after his belongings were found.

In an interview with the BBC, his mother Lynda said she hates being asked about finding "closure" over her son's disappearance.

"Some people say to me: 'Would it not be easier if you had closure?' But closure is my most hated word in the dictionary," she said.

Jonathan was 28 when he went missing. He graduated from a politics degree in Dublin and then went on to study a masters in Middle Eastern Studies in London.

He travelled all around the world working as a journalist - including Cairo, Abu Dhabi and Hong Kong.

In their last conversation on 3 February 2012, he had told his mother he would be away on a short trek for a few weeks, one he wanted to do alone. "I want to do it on my own, kind of a spiritual thing," he said.

She never heard from him again.

Jonathan's uncle, Eugene Lane-Spollen, who also travelled to India, said: "One of the problems is that, in our culture, the concept of simply being so crass as to disappear and not make at least phone calls, is just close to unthinkable. But in their culture, it isn't.

"We met people who had done that. Many people, in their younger years, do it and re-emerge having gone through some sort of retreat, a disappearance."

Hundreds of people are reported missing every year from Rishikesh and the neighbouring city, Haridwar, police said.

An X-ray was found in Jonathan's discarded bag, showing he had been suffering from kidney stones, something which he never mentioned to his mother.

While his family and friends have renewed their appeal to find him, they have no immediate plans to travel to India again any time soon.

His mother said the best-case scenario is that her son has amnesia, was helped by somebody and has started a new life, in which he is happy.

"There is absolutely nothing I would love better than to learn he had gone on a spiritual journey," she told the BBC.

"That would be wonderful for lots of reasons. I might have to have a word with him, but it would be amazing for him as a person, and for all of us who would love him to be OK.

"But I just know that if he could contact me, he would. That's something I have never doubted, not for a minute."

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