Several months after the heroic escape of New York Times reporter David Rohde from his Afghan captors, another Times reporter has been rescued from Taliban kidnappers thanks to a harrowing military raid that killed his interpreter and a British commando.
Stephen Farrell and his interpreter Sultan Munadi were seized Saturday while reporting on the aftermath of NATO air strikes in Afghanistan in a village south of Kunduz.
Early Wednesday, Farrell was rescued by a military raid on the compound where he and Munadi were being held. Farrell managed to escape unharmed, but Munadi was killed.
Like Rohde’s ordeal, this scary story not only brings to light the very real danger that foreign correspondents can find themselves in every day, but also reveals a press black out that kept the news of Farrell and Munadi’s abduction under wraps.
Editor & Publisher editor Greg Mitchell said today that he had noticed that Farrell’s Wikipedia page had been “scrubbed” before being placed under protected status over the weekend. And although the Times did not expressly ask E&P not to write about the kidnapping, when contacted, Times executive editor Bill Keller asked E&P‘s Joe Strupp “for restraint, and explained that the paper was in the midst of trying to deal with the situation,” Mitchell said.
In an article today, the Times said it and other media organizations had purposely kept quiet. Said Keller:
“We feared that media attention would raise the temperature and increase the risk to the captives. We’re overjoyed that Steve is free, but deeply saddened that his freedom came at such a cost. We are doing all we can to learn the details of what happened. Our hearts go out to Sultan’s family and to the family of the British commando who gave his life in the rescue.”
Now, we can turn towards mourning Munadi’s loss. Last week, he wrote a post for the Times At War blog about staying in his home country of Afghanistan and working there despite the danger.
“Being a journalist is not enough; it will not solve the problems of Afghanistan,” Munadi said. “I want to work for the education of the country, because the majority of people are illiterate. That is the main problem facing many Afghans. I am really committed to come back and work for my country.”
Seized Times Reporter Is Freed in Afghan Raid That Kills Aide —New York Times