David Rohde, the New York Times reporter who spent seven months in Taliban captivity, spoke out publicly for the first time last night at an International Center for Journalists Awards Ceremony and said other kidnapped reporters remain in Pakistan.
Rohde's remark suggests that other press blackouts, like the one enforced for seven month by the New York Times as it tried to negotiate Rohde's release, are currently in place regarding abducted reporters.
Please remember—I'm not disclosing any names tonight—but there are still journalists, local and foreign, and many average Pakistanis and Afghans still being held prisoner tonight in the tribal areas. This problem has not been solved. We were extraordinarily lucky to escape. Others will not be.
One of those reporters, the Norwegian documentarian Paal Refsdal, was released yesterday after being kidnapped a week ago by Taliban fighters near the border with Pakistan. A Pakistani newspaper reported Refsdal's kidnapping on Monday, but no western media organizations followed suit until he was released. The Rohde blackout was hardly the first: Canadian journalist Melissa Fung spent a month in captivity while western media remained silent about the story at the request of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
The irony of Rohde's appeal for us to keep those unnamed journalists in our thoughts is that, by withholding their names, he appears to be both endorsing and exposing a noble conspiracy to prevent us from thinking about them or knowing that they exist.
Rohde's full remarks, which presented a thoroughly depressing portrait of the fanaticism we face in Afghanistan and Pakistan, can be seen here.