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`Wall Street Journal' Believes Friday's Messages About Pearl Were False

Aired February 2, 2002 - 08:28   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: We are going to go to Ben Wedeman who is in Karachi, and has some more on the story of the "Wall Street Journal" reporter whose fate is very uncertain this morning as we continue our broadcast. Ben, what's the latest from there?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Some clarification, Miles, from the "Wall Street Journal." We just received a statement from Paul Steiger, who is the managing editor of that newspaper. I'll read it to you:

"Based on reports from Pakistan, we now believe that both of the messages received yesterday about Danny were false."

Now here I will explain. Those two messages, they came one in the form of a telephone call, an anonymous caller called the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad demanding $2 million and the immediate release of the former Taliban Ambassador to Pakistan, Mr. Abdul Salaam Zaeef within 36 hours, in exchange for the release of Danny Pearl. The second message was in the form of an e-mail by the kidnappers, claiming that they had killed Danny Pearl.

Now the "Wall Street Journal" here is saying that both of those messages were false. Now, I will continue to read:

"We continue to believe that Danny is alive, yet we have not heard from Danny's captors in two or three days. We think they believe that Danny is a journalist, nothing more or less. We hope they realize that Danny can also explain what they want to tell the world. When they release Danny, he can share that message. We urge them to release Danny.

If that is not possible, we call on them to demonstrate that Danny remains alive. They can do this by providing us with a photo of Danny holding today's newspaper. We remain eager to continue communication that will lead to Danny's release. That dialogue can be public or private. It can be direct or through a trusted intermediary. We should now resume the dialogue."

That is the end of the statement from Paul Steiger, the managing editor of the "Wall Street Journal." Now, we've also recently received a statement from the home secretary of Pakistan who says, "we now rule out the possibility that he has been killed, as claimed by the kidnappers." Now this is a ray of hope. Throughout the night, the Pakistani police here in Karachi searched the graveyards of Karachi, looking for the body, as was claimed by the kidnappers in the e-mail I referred to. In that e-mail, they said that they had dumped Mr. Pearl's body in a graveyard. So, it appears that there is a ray of hope at this point that Daniel Pearl, the "Wall Street Journal" reporter kidnapped on the 23rd of January, may still be alive. Miles.

O'BRIEN: CNN's Ben Wedeman with the latest from Karachi, and you are invited to query Mr. Wedeman, along with CNN's Christiane Amanpour in about 45 minutes time, an hour's time, right here on CNN, 9:30 Eastern.

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