Yvonne Ridley sacked by al-Jazeera network

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The Independent Online

Yvonne Ridley, the journalist who was kidnapped by the Taliban in Afghanistan, has been sacked as editor of al-Jazeera's English-language service.

Ms Ridley moved from London to the Middle East during the summer in order to relaunch the Qatar-based television station's English language website as part of a two-year contract.

The former Sunday Express journalist came to prominence when she was captured by the Taliban after riding a donkey into Afghanistan in traditional dress.

After her ordeal, she reportedly converted to Islam, gave up smoking and drinking, prayed five times a day and studied the Koran.

At the time of her appointment to al-Jazeera, Ms Ridley told Press Gazette that the venture would provide "a great opportunity to learn the language".

Ms Ridley disclosed yesterday that she was "devastated" but pledged to fight her dismissal in an attempt to determine why her contract had been terminated.

"Until I know why I've been fired, I can't say anything other than that I'm completely devastated and puzzled," she said.

On 28 September 2001, Ms Ridley, 45, was arrested near Jalalabad for allegedly entering Afghanistan illegally.

Her Taliban captors initially accused her of being a member of a special force unit. However, after international intervention, she was released unharmed after a total of 10 days in captivity.