Adnkronos International
Adnkronos International

Video of abducted journalist in Pakistan seeks swap

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.

“We 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 in Pakistan’s 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.

The 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.