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Kidnapped Journalist Believed Alive - 2002-02-02


Pakistani officials and the Wall Street Journal say they believe that American journalist Daniel Pearl has not been killed by his kidnappers.

The home secretary of Pakistan's Sindh province, Brigadier Mukhtar Sheikh, today (Saturday) said officials now rule out the possibility that Mr. Pearl has been killed, as had been claimed in an e-mail note received Friday. The note said Mr. Pearl had been killed and body dumped in a grave yard.

Pakistani police conducted an intensive search of hundreds of graveyards in Karachi, but failed to find any evidence of the Wall Street Journal reporter, who was abducted in the Pakistani city on January 23rd.

Another conflicting claim Friday demanded two million dollars for Mr. Pearl's release.

Wall Street Journal managing editor, Paul Steiger, issued a statement Saturday saying he believes both e-mails are false. He urged the kidnappers to release Mr. Pearl or show proof that he is still alive. The statement says the Wall Street Journal is eager to continue communication that will lead to Mr. Pearl's release, saying the journalist can explain the kidnappers' story to the world.

A previously unknown group, "The National Movement for The Restoration of Pakistani Sovereignty," claimed the kidnapping. One of the demands was the release of Pakistani detainees captured in the war in Afghanistan.

The group also demanded that all American journalists leave Pakistan by today (Saturday), saying there are many spies in Pakistan working under the guise of being reporters.

At the White House Friday, President Bush said his administration is actively involved in trying to rescue Mr. Pearl. However, U-S officials have said there will be no U-S negotiations for his release.

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