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US Asks for Release of Kidnapped Journalist in Pakistan - 2002-01-28

The State Department is appealing for the immediate and unconditional release of American journalist Daniel Pearl, who was abducted in Pakistan last week and is apparently being held by Islamic extremists.

Secretary of State Colin Powell discussed the case by phone Monday with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. The phone conversation underscores the importance being given here to the case of Mr. Pearl, an Indian-based correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, who went missing last Wednesday in Karachi.

E-mail messages received by Pakistani and U.S. newspapers said Mr. Pearl was being held by a group calling itself "The National Movement for the Restoration of Pakistani Sovereignty" and accused him of working for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.

At a briefing here, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher urged the correspondent's release, and said he had no links with the U.S. government. Mr. Boucher said, "We want to reiterate our view that he should be released immediately and unconditionally. He is a respected journalist and he has no connection with the United States government."

Spokesman Boucher said President Musharraf assured Mr. Powell the Pakistani government is doing everything possible to secure Mr. Pearl's freedom.