CJFE Extremely Concerned for Canadian journalist Khadija Abdul Qahaar

Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) is extremely concerned by the release of a new video in which the kidnappers of Canadian journalist Khadija Abdul Qahaar demand two million dollars (US) for her release. The video footage, which was sent to the Miranshah Press Club yesterday, sets a deadline of March 30. Qahaar, who was kidnapped last November, is shown in the video appealing for help from the Canadian government, and human rights and media organizations. She says "accept their demands and get me released otherwise they will kill me." Qahaar, who converted to the Islamic faith several years ago, is also known as Beverly Giesbrecht. She is the publisher of Canadian web magazine "Jihad Unspun". She was reportedly visiting the tribal regions of Pakistan near the Afghan border, collecting material for a documentary for the Al Jazeera network at the time of her kidnapping. "We all hope that Qahaar will soon be released safely," said CJFE president Arnold Amber. "It is apparent that the kidnappers are increasing the pressure to get ransom money for her release." In a previous video released in February, Qahaar said that she was being held by the Taliban. In yesterday's video Qahaar, who appears visibly distressed, says "I am going to be killed at any time as you can see the dagger. I am going to be beheaded like the Polish engineer probably by the end of month". Polish geologist Piotr Stanczak was beheaded by the Darra Adamkhel-based Taliban on February 7, 2009. CJFE is extremely concerned by the lack of progress in both this kidnapping case, and the Somali case in which Canadian journalist Amanda Lindhout and Australian journalist Nigel Brennan remain in captivity after almost seven months. In 2008, CJFE recorded 31 cases of journalists being kidnapped, of which three were Canadian. The third case was CBC journalist Mellissa Fung who was released after being held for 28 days in Afghanistan.

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