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RSF appeals for mobilisation in support of threatened "Wall Street Journal" correspondent

(RSF/IFEX) - The following is an RSF press release:

Mobilisation to Release Daniel Pearl

While the ultimatum issued by the kidnappers of journalist Daniel Pearl has been extended by 24 hours, Reporters without Borders (RSF-Reporters Sans Frontières) is launching an appeal for mobilisation in support of the Wall Street Journal correspondent threatened with execution.

The press freedom organisation is relaying the appeal made by Marianne Pearl, the French wife of the kidnapped journalist, who hopes that the kidnappers will take his "professional honesty and his will for dialogue" into account.

RSF also expresses its solidarity with the declarations made by Paul Steiger, editor in chief of the Wall Street Journal, to the kidnappers: "I hope that the messages I have conveyed to you have convinced you that no good of any kind will result from your execution of Danny Pearl.... Only through Danny's safe release can your group have the opportunity to tell your side of the story and to have the entire world focus on your words."

Reporters Without Borders is also publishing the following text, written by former boxer Mohammed Ali, a Muslim, calling for the release of the Wall Street Journal reporter:

"In the name of Allah, the most gracious, the most compassionate,

"I pray this message reaches those who are detaining Daniel Pearl. As a Muslim, I end each prayer with a plea for peace and compassion among all peoples of the world. During the most recent conflict too many people have suffered, too many have fallen victim to injustice and intolerance, many have lost hope that people can co-exist peacefully as nations without disrespecting the culture, traditions and rights of others. But by the mercy of Allah, I have not lost that hope. I believe Almighty Allah will guide all of us on the path of righteousness and mercy. I have not lost His hope in us to show compassion where none exists and to extend mercy in the most difficult of circumstances. We as Muslims must lead by example. This same example that was given to us over 1400 years ago by the Prophet Mohammed (May the Peace and Blessing of Allah be upon Him).

"Daniel is a professional journalist. His job is to give a voice to those who wish to be heard by the world community. Daniel should not become another victim of the ongoing conflict. I appeal to you to show Daniel Pearl compassion and kindness. Treat him as you would wish all Muslims to be treated by others.

Give hope and belief that Allah will guide us through these difficult times. It is my most sincere prayer that Daniel Pearl be permitted to return safely to his family. May Allah have mercy on us all."

An RSF representative met with the Pakistani ambassador to France on 31 January 2002 to express his very serious preoccupation concerning the situation of Daniel Pearl. The ambassador confirmed that the Pakistani authorities "will do everything they can to obtain the release of the American journalist." During their meeting, RSF deplored that some rumours, spread by the media and by Pakistani authorities, blame the Indian secret services for the kidnapping. The RSF representative stressed that the urgency of this situation called for efforts and goodwill from all sides.

Finally, Robert Ménard, general secretary of RSF, will launch an appeal on 31 January 2002 in Rome for mobilisation in support of Daniel Pearl during the Premiolino prize award ceremony. This journalism prize, given by an Italian foundation, is being given to Reporters Without Borders as the organisation which is the "most representative of the eight reporters killed in Afghanistan."

Daniel Pearl, Bombay-based correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, was kidnapped on Wednesday, 23 January in Karachi. Thirty-eight years old, the American journalist had been in the economic capital of Pakistan, where he was investigating British would-be bomber Richard Reid. The kidnappers launched an ultimatum 30 January, saying they would execute Daniel Pearl in 24 hours. They are calling for the release of Pakistani Taliban fighters held by the US Army.

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