New York Times thanks IrishCentral on reporter-kidnap story
IC Publisher Niall O'Dowd: we are happy that our decision to pull the story and work with our other news partners to withdraw it may have helped in some small way to save his life. That's the best story we could have.'
The New York Times this morning expressed its deep gratitude to IrishCentral, which broke the story of the kidnapping of Times journalist Stephen Farrell by Taliban terrorists at at 2:15 p.m. EST Saturday, and then withdrew the story from its Web site, content partners and news feeds after the Times requested it in the interest of the reporter's life and safety.
In a series of emails and conversations with IrishCentral, The Times had expressed its grave concern that any publicity could jeopardize Farrell's life, as well as that of his translator and colleague Sultan Munadi, who had also been abducted in the vicinity of Kunduz in Afghanistan.
"We are deeply grateful to you for honoring our request to refrain from reporting the kidnapping," The Times' Diane McNulty said to IrishCentral as word came that Farrell was in safe hands.
IrishCentral Publisher Niall O'Dowd, who ordered the story's removal after being contacted by IrishCentral editors, expressed his relief that Farrell had survived.
"Our prayers for Stephen's safety and rescue were expressed immediately to the Times when they first called," O'Dowd said, "and we are happy that our decision to pull the story and work with our other news partners to withdraw it may have helped in some small way to save his life. That's the best story we could have."
Farrell, who has been kidnapped once before in the war-torn region, was freed in a covert commando operation early this morning. Tragically, Mundai was killed in the operation, as was a British soldier. The Times reported today that an Afghan journalist who spoke to villagers in the area said that civilians were also killed in the firefight to free the journalists. But details of the operation itself were sketchy.
The Times confirmed information from IrishCentral's sources that Farrell held dual Irish and British citizenship.
The newspaper described the dramatic events in a story published on its website:
"Farrell and Mr. Munadi were abducted on Saturday while they were reporting on NATO airstrikes on Friday that exploded two fuel tankers hijacked by Taliban militants. Afghan officials have said up to 90 people, including many civilians, were killed in the attack, which NATO officials are now investigating.
"In a brief telephone call about 7:30 p.m. New York time on Tuesday, Farrell told Susan Chira, the foreign editor of The Times: 'I’m out! I’m free!'
"Chira said Farrell told her that he had been 'extracted' by a commando raid carried out by 'a lot of soldiers' in a fierce firefight with his captors. Farrell said he had also called his wife.
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