Its Reporter Safe, NYT Returns to Publicizing Hostage Details
Months after the New York Times and 40 other news outlets collaborated to keep the kidnapping of reporter David Rohde secret, the Grey Lady is now putting a British couple captured by Somali pirates in danger.
UPDATED With N.Y. Times Response (and more)
In an article by Jeffrey Gettlemen and Mohammed Ibrahim titled “Somali Pirates Move Couple Onto Land,” the latest details of the kidnapping are exposed, including the fact that the captors are demanding a $7 million ransom.
The Times and other news outlets did not publish information about Rohde’s capture because publicity increases the value of hostages and puts the captives in greater danger.
Former Green Beret turned war correspondent Michael Yon says on Twitter:
Kept it all quiet for NYT. Now why are the NYT endangering British hostages in Somalia? NYT needs to shut up. They are endangering British.
Not only is the New York Times endangering these hostages, Yon also says that it is lying about Rohde’s escape from Afghanistan.
During the week of October 17, Rohde wrote a five-part account of his experiences captive and his eventual escape.
However, Yon says that the Times actually paid his ransom:
Numerous very well placed sources have told me New York Times/associates paid millions to get Rohde release.
I have been told by very close sources that ex-CIA officers helped pay off release for Rohde. I knew this while it was ongoing.
Whatever the facts are, one thing is clear: The New York Times shouldn’t ask for discretion if it doesn't use it itself.
UPDATE: The New York Times responds on its "At War" blog to the their publication of the hostage story and the allegations that they paid for David Rohde's freedom.
Mr. Rohde issued this statement:
As I stated in the series on our captivity, no ransom was paid in our case and no one, including our guards, helped us escape. I would never have written — and the newspaper would never have published — a five-part-series based on a lie.
Rohde also wrote in the epilogue to his report:
American government officials worked to free us, but they maintained their longstanding policy of not negotiating with kidnappers. They paid no ransom and exchanged no prisoners. Pakistani and Afghan officials said they also freed no prisoners and provided no money.
But that's not what this blog post is interested in as much as it is interested in how the Times justifies its reporting on other hostage situations.
The Times issued this statement:
The New York Times did not break the story of the kidnapping of Paul and Rachel Chandler, and during our reporting of it The Times consulted Christine Collett, Ms. Chandler’s sister-in-law, to ask her if the family objected to the publication of any information regarding the case. Ms. Collett, who was quoted in the story, said the family had no objection to The Times reporting on the case.
The Times has continued to abide by its policy of checking with family members or authorities in kidnapping cases to ensure that the information published does not further endanger the victims. The policy has been applied not only in the Chandler case, but to kidnapping victims elsewhere as well.
Indeed, the hostages have been getting a lot of media attention from many other newspapers.
UPDATE II: The Times considered paying ransom.
The allegations that they paid ransom weren't supposed to be the focus of this post, but they have become the major news story.
ABC's Brian Ross today reports that the Times hired a private security company with ties to the CIA and did make preperations to pay $2 million for Rohde.
The Times reportedly moved more than a million dollars in cash to the region and its negotiators reportedly thought they could get Haqqani to agree to a $2 million payment.