Central & South Asia

Child born to couple held in Afghanistan

US woman and Canadian husband appear in video plea to their governments to help free them from Taliban kidnappers.

Last updated: 05 Jun 2014 09:51
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The families released the clips after the publicity surrounding the rescue of US soldier Bowe Bergdahl [AP]

Two videos have been released by the family of a US woman, missing in Afghanistan along with her Canadian husband since 2012, in which the couple say they are now parents and call on Washington to help free them from the Taliban. 

The pair, who were expecting their first child, crossed into Afghanistan during a holiday. Joshua Boyle emailed relatives from an internet cafe in a part of the country he called unsafe on October 8, 2012.

That message was the last anyone heard from him or his pregnant wife, Caitlan Coleman.

An Afghan official later told the AP news agency that the two had been abducted in Wardak province, a rugged, mountainous Taliban haven.

The families decided to make the videos public now in light of the publicity surrounding the weekend rescue of US Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who was freed from Taliban custody in exchange for the release of five high-level Taliban detainees at the US prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The families said they were disappointed that their children and grandchild were not freed as part of the same deal but were appealing for help from anyone who could give it, including the couple's captors or the government.

"It would be no more appropriate to have our government turn their backs on their citizens than to turn their backs on those who serve,'' Patrick Boyle, a Canadian judge and the father of Joshua Boyle, said in a telephone interview.

The families said their children were prisoners just as Bergdahl was and should be recognised as "innocent tourists."

Coleman appeal

The video files, which were provided to AP, were emailed to Coleman's father last July and September by an Afghan man who identified himself as having ties with the Taliban.

I would ask that my family and my government do everything that they can to bring my husband, child and I to safety and freedom.

Caitlan Coleman

The families have not received any ransom demands and there were no clear
signs of a motive for the couple being held.

In the two short clips, Boyle and Coleman are seen calling on the US government to free them and their child - who would now be about 18 months old - from Taliban captors.

The videos do not reveal the whereabouts of the couple or their child, who does not appear.

"I would ask that my family and my government do everything that they can to bring my husband, child and I to safety and freedom," the 28-year-old Coleman says in one recording, wearing a black garment that covers all but her face.

Her husband, with a long and untrimmed beard, sits beside her.

US law enforcement officials investigating the couple's disappearance consider the videos authentic but say they hold limited investigative value since it is not clear when, or where, they were made.

US State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf declined on Wednesday to discuss specifics of the case because of privacy considerations.

Jean-Bruno Villeneuve, a spokesman for Canada's foreign affairs department, said that officials had been working with Afghan authorities.


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