An Italian journalist who was held hostage for 15 days by the Taliban in lawless southern Afghanistan was ransomed for five Taliban prisoners, the Italian government and Afghan officials confirmed Wednesday.
It appears to be the first time prisoners have been openly exchanged for a hostage in the wars that the United States and its allies are fighting there and in Iraq, and the move drew immediate criticism from Washington and London, and from other European capitals…
…Though it may have saved a life, the ransom has set off a worried debate in Italy and in other countries with soldiers, reporters and aid workers in danger zones.
The exchange sent “the wrong signal to prospective hostage takers,” a spokeswoman for the British Foreign Office told Reuters.
On a visit to Kabul on Wednesday, the Dutch foreign minister, Maxime Verhagen, told reporters: “When we create a situation where you can buy the freedom of Taliban fighters when you catch a journalist, then in the short term there will be no journalists anymore.”
The concern was underscored on Tuesday just after the release of one of the prisoners, Ustad Yasir, who was identified as a Taliban spokesman. He said he would return immediately to war, and was “grabbing two rifles to begin jihad again to hunt down invaders and fight nonbelievers,” according to a statement attributed to him on the Internet.
It obviously won’t be their last.
Fabrizio Quattrocchi must be rolling in his grave.blog comments powered by Disqus
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