NATO commandos have freed Stephen Farrell, the New York Times reporter who was kidnapped in Afghanistan’s northern province of Kunduz last week while covering the airstrike on two hijacked fuel tankers. Reuters reports:
New York Times spokeswoman Diane McNulty confirmed early on Wednesday that Farrell had been released and Sultan [Farrell’s driver] killed.
Abdul Waheed Omarkheil, district chief of Char Dara district in Kunduz province, site of last Friday’s air strike, said Farrell had been released in a pre-dawn raid by NATO troops. An Afghan woman was killed during the raid in the house where the two men were being held, he added.
Mohammad Nabi, a resident of the district, said Taliban fighters with the two captives had stayed at his house that night after demanding shelter. He said NATO forces arrived by helicopter and killed his sister-in-law during their raid.
The New York Times attempted to suppress reporting of Farrell’s kidnapping. Local Afghan newspapers, as well as DPA, the German wire service, reported on the kidnapping, but did not name Farrell. Farrell’s kidnapping was reported here at Threat Matrix.
Last weekend The New York Times requested the report of Farrell’s kidnapping be removed from Threat Matrix. We did not honor the request.
The New York Times was able to successfully suppress media reports of reporter David Rohde’s kidnapping for more than seven months. The newspaper was even successful in getting Wikipedia to suppress the reports of Rohde’s kidnapping.
The Times has not afforded the same media blackout to Coalition soldiers, Afghan nationals, NGO workers, and contractors kidnapped in Iraq and Afghanistan. For instance, in January 2008, the newspaper reported on the kidnapping of Sidney Misal, a female aid worker for the Asian Rural Life Development Foundation, the same day she was captured.
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