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Kidnapped Reporter is Alive <i>Wall Street Journal</i> Says - 2002-02-02


The Wall Street Journal and Pakistani officials believe kidnapped reporter Daniel Pearl is still alive. Mr. Pearl's captors are demanding the release of Pakistanis captured by U.S. forces during the fight against terrorism in Afghanistan.

The home secretary of Pakistan's Sindh province Saturday ruled out the possibility that Mr. Pearl had been killed as claimed in an e-mail message Friday. The note said Mr. Pearl's body had been dumped in a grave yard, but a police search of hundreds of graveyards in the city of Karachi failed to turn-up his body.

Wall Street Journal managing editor Paul Steiger issued a statement Saturday saying the paper believes Mr. Pearl is still alive and asking his kidnappers to resume a dialogue that could lead to his release. Mr. Steiger asked the gunmen to provide proof that Mr. Pearl has not been killed, by providing a photo of him holding a Saturday newspaper.

The kidnappers want the release of Pakistani detainees captured in Afghanistan, and have told all American journalists to leave Pakistan by Saturday because they say there are many spies pretending to be reporters.

President Bush Friday said the FBI is actively engaged in trying to find and rescue Mr. Pearl by tracing the source of the e-mail messages. U.S. officials made it clear there will be no negotiating with the kidnappers, who claim to be from a previously-unkown group called the National Movement for the Restoration of Pakistani Sovereignty.

Pakistani officials are tracing a telephone call made to the U.S. embassy in Islamabad late Friday demanding a $2 million ransom plus the release of the Taleban's former ambassador to Pakistan. A foreign ministry spokesman said Pakistani security forces are concentrating on the search for Mr. Pearl and "hope some positive results will come out."