Newspaper tries to open dialogue with kidnappers

Tuesday, February 5, 2002

KARACHI, Pakistan -- After a series of hoax e-mails, the managing editor of The Wall Street Journal issued an open letter Monday to the group he believes responsible for the kidnapping of reporter Daniel Pearl, asking for a private dialogue to "address your concerns."

Pearl's wife, meanwhile, issued an impassioned appeal for his life and said she was willing to die in his place.

Paul Steiger, the Journal managing editor, addressed the letter to the National Movement for the Restoration of Pakistani Sovereignty.

That organization signed the first e-mail sent on Jan. 27 claiming to have abducted Pearl who disappeared four days earlier. Attached to that claim were photographs of the journalist -- one with a gun pointed at his head, another with Pearl holding a newspaper of dated Jan. 27.

That communication demanded that Washington return Pakistani prisoners held at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for trial in Pakistan. The Bush administration has ruled out any negotiations.

"I know that the National Movement for the Restoration of Pakistani Sovereignty is very serious and wants others to know about its movement. To assure that this happens it is important for you to respond to this message," Steiger's letter said.

A number groups have been named by Pakistani authorities as possible suspects in the kidnapping.

Pearl's abductors last released a photo of him Wednesday, with a threat to kill him in 24 hours.

Mariane Pearl, who is six months pregnant with the couple's first child, urged the kidnappers to contact her.

"Don't harm an innocent man because you're just going to create one more misery," she said in Karachi in a BBC television interview.

"If anyone's going to give his life to save him it's me," she said. "Please make contact with me -- I'm ready."

Twelve days into Pearl's kidnap ordeal, Pakistan's interior minister said efforts to find the journalist were now "massive in scale, spread to all parts of Pakistan."

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