A Magazine by the Society of Professional Journalists

International Journalism In-Brief

By Quill

Freed British journalist tells of ordeal

British journalist Yvonne Ridley, 43, was released from Afghanistan Oct. 8 after being arrested Sept. 28. Officials and family members were concerned about her well-being after the Allies launched the missile attacks on Taliban and al-Qaeda targets in Afghanistan. Ridley, a London Sunday Daily Express reporter, was seized after she crossed from Pakistan into eastern Afghanistan without a visa. She had sneaked into the country disguised as an Afghan woman to report the plight of refugees, her editor said. Early reports indicated that she would be put on trial for entering the country illegally or for spying. Ridley said she went on a hunger strike after being captured by the Taliban after her request to make a phone call was refused. She also described how during her 11 days of captivity she had feared that she would “disappear.” Speaking only hours after being released by the Taliban regime to Pakistan, she told the Daily Express, “The only way I could exercise any right – because as a prisoner I had no rights – was by not eating and that really upset them, which encouraged me.” She said that she eventually was separated from other female prisoners and described her cell as “squalid,” although it had been cleaned of cockroaches and scorpions. “I was never physically hurt in any way,” Ridley told the paper. “They tried to break me mentally by asking the same questions time and time again, day after day, sometimes until 9 o’clock at night.”

China frees American reporter after six months

China has released a Chinese-born American citizen who had been detained for almost six months on charges of spying for Taiwan, a United States Embassy official told The New York Times. Wu Jianmin, 46, a free-lance journalist with a United States passport, was released in the southern city of Guangzhou and left China in September, the official said. Wu was detained on April 8 at a border crossing between Hong Kong and the mainland. Wu is one of a handful of American citizens and permanent residents detained earlier this year by China’s security forces. Wu, a former journalist and instructor at the Communist Party School, left China in 1988. He wrote a book about the 1989 pro-democracy student protests in Tiananmen Square.