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Journalists Press Kidnappers to Free American Reporter


Just two days remain before a deadline set by the kidnappers of Jill Carroll. She is the American journalist who was abducted in Iraq back in January. Carroll's captors say they will kill her if their demands aren't met by Sunday. Meanwhile, an international journalist organization is continuing its campaign for her release.

NPR's Corey Flintoff reports.


Mr. JIM CARROLL (Father of kidnapped journalist): Hello. My name is Jim Carroll. I'm the father of the young journalist, Jill Carroll, being held captive in Iraq. I wish to thank all of the world --

Mrs. KATIE CARROLL (Sister of kidnapped journalist): My name is Katie Carroll. My sister is Jill Carroll, the American journalist currently being held --

FLINTOFF: The group, Reporters Without Borders, is broadcasting appeals from Jill Carroll's father and sister, urging her release. Lucie Morillon, the group's representative in Washington, says the object of the campaign is to get media attention that will make its way back to Jill Carroll's captors.

Ms. LUCIE MORILLON (Reporters Without Borders): To make sure the word is going to spread, that the abductors and the people in the Middle East are going to understand that Jill Carroll is only a journalist, who's only crime was to do her job and to try to cover objectively the situation in Iraq. She should not be held responsible for a decision of any government.

FLINTOFF: Carroll was a freelancer who was reporting for the Christian Science Monitor when she was abducted in an attack that left her interpreter dead. The group that kidnapped her, which calls itself the Revenge Brigades, demands the release of all Iraqi women held in U.S. military or Iraqi jails. The United States did free several women, although United States officials insisted that the release was not in response to the kidnappers' demands.

Nihad Awad is Executive Director of CAIR, the Council on American Islamic Relations. Awad was part of a two-person delegation that went to Baghdad last month to appeal for Carroll's release, stressing that her reporting helped show the plight of the Iraqi people.

Mr. NIHAD AWAD (Council on American Islamic Relations): The fact that Jill Carroll has been a known journalist in the area who showed respect to the Iraqi culture and has been sympathetic with the cause of the Iraqi people. She is an asset and she is a voice for the Iraqi people. She's not party to a conflict.

FLINTOFF: Awad says efforts to free Carroll and other kidnapped journalists have been complicated by recent events, including the controversy over the publication of satirical cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, and the release of new photographs showing the abuse of Iraqi inmates at Abu Ghraib prison.

Reporters Without Borders' Lucie Morillon acknowledges that the motives for political kidnappings include media coverage for the kidnappers' causes, but she says the media campaign is justified. She cites the experience of French reporters who were abducted and later released.

Ms. MORILLON: What they told us once they were released is that media coverage helped a lot for them first, because they knew that there was some concern abroad and it really helped them hold on.

FLINTOFF: She said media coverage also encourages religious and political leaders in Iraq to speak out on behalf of the hostages. Reporters Without Borders has coupled the campaign for Carroll's release with an appeal for the freedom of two kidnapped Iraqi reporters, Reem Zeid and Marwan Khazaal, who work for the Iraqi TV station al-Sumariya. So far, nothing is known of their whereabouts or their kidnappers' motives.

Nothing has been heard from Jill Carroll's kidnappers in almost two weeks. But Nihad Awad, of the Council on American Islamic Relations, says he's encouraged by the fact that her captors have set and ignored an earlier deadline, meaning they may be more likely to eventually let her go.

Corey Flintoff, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.