Wednesday, September 9, 2009

EXCLUSIVE: NYT's Bill Keller Confirms That Stephen Farrell, NYT Correspondent Kidnapped By Taliban On Saturday, Has Been Rescued.

In an email to The NYTPicker moments ago, NYT executive editor Bill Keller confirmed that Stephen Farrell, the NYT correspondent kidnapped last Saturday by the Taliban, has been rescued.

"We will be posting what we know before long," Keller wrote us in a 12:05 a.m. email, confirming a report from an Afghan news agency first posted by Gawker.

Farrell had been kidnapped on Saturday while in Kunduz, Afghanistan, reporting on the recent NATO air attack. The NYTPicker learned of the kidnapping that day and briefly posted the news on its blog, but removed the post at the NYT's request.

This headline has just been posted on, as a Breaking News alert: "Commandos Free Times Reporter From Captors in Afghanistan." We'll report details as soon as we have them.

UPDATE: The NYT is now reporting that Farrell was freed in a commando raid early Wednesday morning, but that his Afghan interpreter, Sultan Munadi, was killed in the rescue.

"I'm out! I'm free!" Farrell said in a call to NYT foreign editor Susan Chira at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, according to the just-posted Eric Schmitt story on the NYT website, which described the rescue as a "fierce firefight."

The NYT story also includes a detailed account of the kidnapping from Farrell's driver, who is left unnamed in the piece. It also reports the NYT's efforts to keep news of the abduction quiet while the paper worked to get its reporter released.

Schmitt's story leaves unclear the affiliation of the military forces that freed Farrell, except to refer to them as "commandos." A BBC report identified the rescuers as NATO troops.

In June, NYT reporter David Rohde was released by the Taliban after being kidnapped and held captive for seven months. The NYT did not disclose Rohde's kidnapping until after his release, and made significant efforts to keep the news secret while working to free him.


Anonymous said...

Oh no. This is happy news, right? But I'm programmed to expect grousing and nit picking. Such cognative dissonance. My brain is going to explode!

Let us all take a minute and pause our complaining to thank all of the hard working reporters, no matter how fallible. The world is not always as nice to the reporters as the PR flacks.

Anonymous said...

F this guy, all he would've been doing is reporting about how US Troops are killing "innocent civilians" and knocking the military at every breath...I would've left his ass over there in the hands of his Al Queda homies.