New York, May 11, 2010—The Committee to Protect Journalists
is concerned by new demands made by a militant group calling itself the Asian Tigers,
the captors of freelance journalist Asad Qureshi, left, who has been held in Pakistan
since March 26. In a video
sent to the Rome-based news agency Adnkronos International today, the
kidnappers insisted that Pakistan
release at least 160 Islamic militants in exchange for his freedom, according
to international news reports. The journalist is being held in Pakistan’s tribal region near the border with Afghanistan.
are increasingly concerned by these conflicting reports of the kidnappers’
demands,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia
program coordinator. “We remind them that journalists are not pawns to be used
larger political conflicts. We urge all sides to do their utmost to secure Asad
Qureshi’s safe release as soon as possible.”
Qureshi, a British citizen of Pakistani origin, was
taken on March 26 on his way to North Waziristan
to interview Taliban leaders, according to local and international news
reports. Two former officials from Pakistan’s Inter-Services
Intelligence agency who were accompanying him as guides are also missing, the
reports said. One, Khalid
Khawaja, a retired Inter-Services
Intelligence official, was found dead of multiple bullet wounds in North Waziristan on April 30.
Asian Tigers told local journalists that it had killed Khawaja because the
government had not responded to its demands for $10 million and the release of Taliban prisoners.