By: Richard Pyle, Associated Press Writer
(AP) Appealing to the compassion of those holding one of his reporters hostage, the managing editor of The Wall Street Journal went online to try and win his freedom.
In a six-paragraph e-mail to the captors believed to be holding Daniel Pearl in Pakistan, Managing Editor Paul Steiger mentioned his reporter’s background and his family.
“You should know that Danny has a wife,” the e-mail read. “She is a citizen of France, and also a journalist. She is also six months pregnant with their first child. I would like you to know that she is greatly distressed over Danny’s situation.”
The message was transmitted Monday to the address from which a flurry of e-mails had come over the weekend to various U.S. news organizations confirming that Pearl had been taken hostage four days earlier.
They included four photos of Pearl in custody, one showing him with a gun to his head, and a list of demands including better treatment for Pakistanis held with other terrorist suspects by U.S. authorities at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Using a free e-mail service, the group identified itself as the National Movement for the Restoration of Pakistani Sovereignty. But Pakistani authorities said Pearl was most likely being held by a known radical Muslim faction linked to the al-Qaida terrorist organization.
“Danny Pearl has no ability to change the policies of the U.S. government or the government of Pakistan. Nor do I,” Steiger wrote. “Therefore I would ask that you release Danny so that he may return home to his wife and soon-to-be-born child.”
Steiger said in his message that he “looked forward to hearing further on this matter so that we can coordinate Danny’s safe and timely release. I encourage you to correspond with me further through this e-mail address.”
The 38-year-old reporter disappeared Jan. 23 in the port city of Karachi after making an appointment to interview leaders of a radical Islamic organization with ties to al-Qaida.
Pakistani investigators were using “all means available to find the abducted person,” Maj. Gen. Rashid Quereshi, a spokesman for Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, said Tuesday in Islamabad.
Secretary of State Colin Powell conferred by telephone with Musharraf on Monday, the State Department said. Pakistani police were reportedly questioning people who had met with Pearl since his arrival in Pakistan a few weeks ago.
Meanwhile, a former journalist who was at the center of a similar kidnap drama in the 1980s said the U.S. government will never negotiate with Pearl’s abductors.
“There is nothing that the American government can or will give them,” said Terry Anderson, who spent nearly seven years as a hostage of Islamic extremists in Lebanon before his release in December 1991. “They have to understand that kidnapping journalists is not a useful tactic.”
Anderson was Middle East chief of services for The Associated Press when he was taken hostage in Beirut in March 1985 by the pro-Iran Hezbollah faction.
The U.S. government refused to negotiate for his release on grounds that it could encourage more abductions — a strategy that paid off through a decline in hostage-taking of journalists, according to Anderson. “The night before they released me, my captors told me that it hadn’t been a useful tactic,” said Anderson, who later wrote a book on his experiences and taught journalism at Columbia University and Ohio University.
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists also called for Pearl’s release. “Targeting reporters who are working independently to report the news will never advance anyone’s political agenda,” said CPJ executive director Ann Cooper.
The text of the e-mail sent by Paul Steiger, managing editor of The Wall Street Journal, to the kidnapers of Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in Pakistan:
An Important Message for You concerning Daniel Pearl.
My name is Paul Steiger and I am Danny Pearl’s boss at The Wall Street Journal. I would like to work with you to bring about Danny’s safe release.
You should know that Danny has a wife. She is a citizen of France, and also a journalist. She is also six months pregnant with their first child. I would like you to know that she is greatly distressed over Danny’s situation. She hopes that you will come to understand that keeping Danny will not alter U.S. Government policy or accomplish your goals.
I think you now understand that Danny is a professional journalist and has been for more than eleven years. He is well known Internationally as a reporter. Currently, he is in Pakistan to provide objective coverage of ongoing events. He has never worked for the CIA or the U.S. Government in any capacity.
Danny Pearl has no ability to change the policies of the U. S. Government or the Government of Pakistan. Nor do I.
Therefore, I would ask that you release Danny so that he may return home safe to his wife and soon-to-be-born child.
I look forward to hearing from you further on this matter so that we can coordinate Danny’s safe and timely release. I encourage you to correspond with me further through this email address.