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Monitor downplays looming deadline for abducted reporter

NEW YORK: With five days to go until the latest deadline set by the kidnappers of abducted journalist Jill Carroll for their demands to be met, her employers at the Christian Science Monitor are downplaying the Feb. 26 date as the final chance to win her release.

"We feel there can be a danger in getting fixated on a deadline of putting pressure on Jill's captors to hold to a deadline when in practice these are at times negotiating stances rather than fixed deadlines," said David Cook, the Monitor's Washington, D.C. bureau chief and the paper's spokesman on the Carroll story. "As we've discussed in the past, sometimes deadlines which are presented as final are not and I think that it is a useful thing to keep in mind."

Cook noted that the captors, who abducted Carroll, 25, in Baghdad at gunpoint on Jan. 7, had set a previous deadline weeks ago, which passed without their demands being fully met or Carroll's death. Since her abduction, which occurred in an incident in which her translator was killed, three videos showing Carroll in captivity have been released by her captors, along with demands that all women Iraqi prisoners be released.

Since the initial demand, U.S. and Iraqi officials have released five women who had been held in Iraq, but continue to hold at least three others. Their last message said Carroll would be killed if their demands were not met by Feb. 26.

But Cook pointed out that the demands remain somewhat vague, saying "it is not clear if the captors demands for release are for particular women prisoners in Iraq or Iraqi women prisoners in general."

Cook declined to comment further on what efforts the paper is engaged in to win Carroll's release. The paper has said in the past that its Baghdad bureau had been working extensively on seeking Carroll's freedom. "We are continuing to work on this night and day," Cook said. "But there is nothing new to report."

But while the Monitor is not focused on the looming deadline, Carroll's family and an international journalists group apparently are. Both released new calls for her release Tuesday, noting the upcoming deadline as a factor in their urgency.

Reporters Without Borders, an international journalists group based in Paris, launched an awareness campaign Tuesday that included the distribution of badges to journalists in New York, Washington, and London that included the phrase "Free Jill Carroll." The group also sponsored a citywide bus tour in Paris, where members handed out the badges to journalists at more than a dozen news outlets.

"We are asking the media to talk about Jill's plight and we cannot ask Arab media to do it without asking western media," said Lucie Morillon, the group's Washington, D.C. representative. "The deadline is coming and we are really very worried so we want to help her."

Reporters Without Borders also released new audio statements from Carroll's sister, Katie, and her father, Jim, both urging her release. "Jill is the strongest and most caring person I know. I'm proud of her and I hope that young journalists around the world are inspired by her passion," Katie Carroll said.

Carroll's father reminded others of his daughter's efforts to bring the stories of real Iraqi people out. "She and thousands of other journalists try to bring truth to the world every day, and it is especially important in Iraq right now," he stated. "My daughter was called to perform a vital service for Iraq and the rest of the world. Her stories in the past three years have covered political leaders and events, but also many stories of ordinary people and their struggle to survive. Those stories deserve to be told so that all people understand what is happening in Iraq."

Date posted: February 21, 2006 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 10