Newspaper believes reporter still alive
WASHINGTON- Anxiety about the fate of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl remains high here, despite the fact that e-messages received through e-mail on Friday were believed to have been false.
The Journal’s Managing Editor, Mr Paul Steiger, said on Saturday: “We now believe that both of the messages received yesterday were false. We continue to believe that Danny is alive.”
Mr Steiger said the paper remained eager to continue communication that would lead to Mr Pearl’s release. “That dialogue can be public or private. It can be direct or through a trusted intermediary. We should now resume that dialogue.”
However, the managing editor pointed out: “We have not heard from Danny’s captors in two or three days. We think they believe that Danny is a journalist – nothing more or less. We hope they realize that Danny can also explain what they want to tell the world. When they release Danny, he can share that message.”
Mr Steiger urged those holding Mr Pearl to release him. “If that is not possible, we call on them to demonstrate that Danny remains alive. They can do this by providing us with a photo of Danny holding today’s newspaper.”
Of the two communications received on Friday, one had claimed that Mr Pearl had been killed, and the other had demanded $2 million for the journalist’s release.
The Journal has repeatedly emphasized that the best way to get the message of those holding Mr Pearl to be heard is to free the messenger.
The Journal’s Managing Editor, Mr Paul Steiger, has appealed to the people holding Mr Pearl to understand that the best way to get their message through to the world would be to release the journalist.
Mr Steiger said his sense was that the interests of the men who had Mr Pearl in custody would not be served by harming the reporter. Public opinion in the world, including in Pakistan, will hear the men if the reporter was released and allowed to tell their story.
Mr Steiger said Mr Pearl was always respectful of Islam and was a “very apolitical, rebellious kind of journalist.” Mr Steiger categorically denied any links between Mr Pearl and the US government or the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, as alleged by the men holding him. The US State Department has also denied the allegations.
In a message to the kidnappers, Mr Steiger said: “You may have a story to tell. My paper can cover that story, and Danny (Daniel Pearl) can tell that story better than anyone else. Danny’s release is a small price to pay for you to realize this goal.”
Farrakhan: Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Chicago-based Nation of Islam, in a strong appeal for Mr Pearl’s release, said the reporter was not a combatant and should be immediately released. “Our religion Islam,” Mr Farrakhan said, “is under threat. The world is watching. To execute or murder this man will increase hatred for Islam and damage the reputation of Muslims throughout the world.”
Boxing legend Mohammad Ali had also issued an appeal for the immediate release of Mr Pearl.
Pakistani diplomats here are anxiously following developments in the case and its possible repercussions on the forthcoming visit of Gen Pervez Musharraf to the United States.
AMNESTY: Amnesty International has issued a plea for the immediate release of kidnapped US journalist Daniel Pearl. “The taking of hostages is a grave human rights abuse and is totally unacceptable,” a statement from human rights watchdog said in Islamabad.
“It is an act which threatens the fundamental right to life, personal integrity and liberty, and is expressly prohibited by international law. “Under no circumstances is the taking of hostages justifiable,” it added.