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CJFE urges authorities to work for swift release of Canadian journalist Khadija Abdul Qahaar, held by Taliban since November 2008

(CJFE/IFEX) - The following is a 25 February 2009 CJFE press release:

His Excellency Musa Javed Chohan
High Commissioner of Pakistan to Canada
10 Range Road
Ottawa, Canada
K1N 8J3

February 25, 2009

Dear High Commissioner,

I am writing on behalf of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), a non-profit, non-governmental organization that works to promote and protect press freedom and freedom of expression around the world.

CJFE wishes to express its grave concern for the safety of Canadian journalist Khadija Abdul Qahaar, also known as Beverly Giesbrecht, who was kidnapped on November 11, 2008 in northern Pakistan. Qahaar was working on a documentary for the Al Jazeera network when she was taken at gunpoint along with her translator and guide in the Bannu district near the Afghan border.

In a video released on February 23 and aired on CBC Newsworld, Qahaar relates her ordeal. "I have been in captivity now for almost three months," she says. "I wake up in the dark and I go to sleep in the dark. There is nothing but a wood furnace and not enough wood." In the videotape she also confirms that she is being held by the Taliban.

Last month, The News International, an English-language Pakistani newspaper, reported that the abductors were asking for $150,000 and the release of Taliban prisoners from an Afghan jail in exchange for Qahaar's freedom.

CJFE urges your government to work for the swift release of Canadian journalist Khadija Abdul Qahaar. We also urge the government to make the safety of all journalists working within its borders an ongoing priority.

We thank you for your attention and look forward to your reply.

Yours sincerely,

Arnold Amber, President

CC: Mr. Randolph Mank, High Commissioner of Canada to Pakistan
The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs

Updates the Abdul Qahaar (Beverly Giesbrecht) case: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/98445

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