Reporter held by Taliban tells of hunger strike and interrogation

War against terrorism: Journalist

Ian Herbert,North
Saturday 15 February 2014 02:06
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The freed journalist Yvonne Ridley is expected to have a private reunion with her family on Wednesay after a 10-day imprisonment in Afghanistan which included relentless questioning by the Taliban.

Ms Ridley, who will be greeted by plentiful supplies of pink champagne, her favourite tipple, at the family home in West Pelton, County Durham, disclosed yesterday how she went on hunger strike in protest at being refused access to a telephone.

In an article for the Daily Express, Ms Ridley, chief reporter for the newspaper's Sunday stablemate, said: "Hunger strike was the only weapon I had. It was the only thing I could do that they couldn't stop me doing."

Describing the raids on the Afghan capital on Sunday, she wrote: "When the night-time wave of attacks on Kabul started I was lying in bed and it was like fireworks being set off."

She said she told men who came in to take away a rocket-propelled grenade from under her bed that they might as well use bows and arrows for all the good it would do.

"I was never physically hurt. They tried to break me mentally by asking the same questions time and time again, day after day, sometimes until nine o'clock at night," she said.

Her 74-year-old mother, Joyce Ridley, received a telephone call from Pakistan on Monday night which started with a familiar greeting: "Hi ya, Mum." Mrs Ridley said she immediately broke the news to her nine-year-old granddaughter, Daisy, who was at her boarding school in the Lake District, on Monday night.

"She screamed, 'Thank you, Nana, I love you, I love you, I love you Nana, I love you Grandad,'" said Mrs Ridley.

Ms Ridley was seized near the north-eastern city of Jalalabad on 28 September after travelling to the region with two local guides. She was not carrying her passport.

Meanwhile, eight Western aid workers who were imprisoned with her remained in Afghanistan. Their lawyer said they were "safe but scared". The workers have been held since August on charges of spreading Christianity.

¿ A burqa-clad reporter for the French weekly magazine Paris Match was arrested by Taliban forces in eastern Afghanistan yesterday and taken to Jalalabad for questioning. Michel Peyrard, aged about 30, had entered from Pakistan. Two Pakistani guides were arrested with him.

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