NYTimes Reporter David Rohde escapes Taliban

After seven months in captivity, the New York Times is reporting that investigative journalist David Rohde has escaped captivity in the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Rohde, along with local reporter Tahir Ludin and driver Asadullah Mangal, were kidnapped more than seven months ago outside Kabul. Rohde was researching a book on November 10th, 2008 when he was abducted and held by the Taliban. Rohde and Ludin finally escaped by climbing a wall of the compound in the North Waziristan region of Pakistan where they were being held. Rohde was unhurt, but Ludin suffered an injured foot.

Wondering how this story escaped your attention? It turns out that the Times deliberately kept the situation under wraps to keep the men safe, and other media outlets complied with their wishes. Bill Keller, Executive Editor of the New York Times, said in the piece:

“From the early days of this ordeal, the prevailing view among David’s family, experts in kidnapping cases, officials of several government and others we consulted was that going public could increase the danger to David and the other hostages. The kidnappers initially said as much. We decided to respect that advice, as we have in other kidnapping cases, and a number of other news organizations that learned of David’s plight have done the same. We are enormously grateful for their support.”

This also wasn’t the first time David Rohde was captured and detained in the course of researching a story. Early in his career, he was held for ten days in Bosnia while investigating ethnic cleansing of Muslims in the region. After a long e-mail to his then-editor indicating that he “couldn’t live with himself if the massacre went unheeded,” Rohde vanished. He was released after nearly two weeks of interrogation and sleep deprivation. Rohde won the Pulitzer Prize in 1996 for his coverage of the Srebrenica massacre.