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Central & South Asia
Taliban may release Italian captive
Kidnapped journalist will be freed if he can prove he is not a spy, says spokesman.
Last Modified: 09 Mar 2007 13:24 GMT
Daniele Mastrogiacomo was abducted in
Helmand province with two Afghan colleagues [AP]  

The Taliban have said Daniele Mastrogiacomo, the Italian reporter kidnapped earlier in the week, could be released if he proves that he is not a spy.
 
A Taliban spokesman said on Friday that Mastrogiacomo was still being questioned but that he could be released "if he's proved innocent", but warned, "we won't spare any spy".
Mullah Hayat Khan, a Taliban spokesman, said: "There's a good chance that the journalist Daniele came only to report and may not be involved in spying."
The Taliban had said Mastrogiacomo, who was picked up on Monday in southern Afghanistan's Helmand province with two Afghan colleagues, had confessed to spying for British troops.
 
Khan said the Taliban had recovered a video camera, a satellite phone and "lasers in shampoo bottles" that he said could help guide air strikes to Taliban positions.
 
"We're investigating if the journalist Daniele was involved in bringing lasers in shampoo bottles," he said.
 
Mastrogiacomo works for La Repubblica newspaper, which has denied the Italian was a spy and said the Karachi-born journalist had been writing for them since 1980 and had reported from Afghanistan since February 28.
 
On Thursday, the Italian government demanded the Taliban provide proof that Mastrogiacomo was still alive, as hundreds of protesters gathered in Rome demanding his release.
 
Friends, relatives and colleagues gathered outside Rome's city hall to call for Mastrogiacomo's immediate release, saying it was impossible that he would have confessed to being a spy.
 
Elisabetta Belloni, head of the foreign ministry's crisis unit which handles hostage negotiations, said the government had not received any proof Mastrogiacomo was alive, needed before any talks could get under way for his release.
Source:
Agencies
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