Journalist Yvonne Ridley has been released by Taliban
Yvonne Ridley 'back in Pakistan'
Sunday Express reporter Yvonne Ridley has been pictured on Pakistani
television after crossing the border from Afghanistan to freedom.
Wearing a headscarf, she appeared in good health and good spirits as she
climbed from a car.
It was the first sighting of the 43-year-old mother-of-one since her
arrest by Taliban authorities on September 28 after she crossed into
Afghanistan to report on the crisis.
Yvonne Ridley said: "Obviously I am delighted to be free after 10 days
under arrest. I would like to thank all those who have worked for my
release including the Foreign Office, the Pakistan Government and of
course my company Express Newspapers. I am now desperate to get home to
see my daughter Daisy."
Martin Townsend, editor of the Sunday Express, said: "We are delighted to
hear that Yvonne is safe in Pakistan although we won't be celebrating
until she is back safe on British soil.
"Our thoughts are still with the eight aid workers held captive in
Afghanistan. We hope and pray to see their early release."
A Foreign Office spokeswoman said tonight: "Our High Commission in
Islamabad have confirmed that Yvonne Ridley is at the office of senior
Pakistani officials in Peshawar.
"Consular officials are meeting her there and will give her all assistance
Prime Minister Tony Blair also told the Commons that Ms Ridley had been
released and handed over to Pakistani officials.
She crossed into Pakistan at the Torkhum border crossing at the foot of
the Khyber Pass, according to tribal authorities at the scene.
She was accompanied to the Afghan side of the border by officials and met
there by Pakistani authorities. There were no British officials awaiting
her at the crossing, tribal officials said.
Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, the Taliban ambassador to Pakistan, was earlier
reported as saying Ms Ridley had been freed from the Afghan capital Kabul
at 12 noon local time.
Earlier today Ms Ridley's mother Joyce, from Pelton, Co Durham, condemned
the US and British governments for delaying her daughter's release by
launching Sunday night's attacks.
Mrs Ridley said: "She was coming home, my Yvonne was a free woman.
"The British government said she was coming home. Why then could they not
delay the bombing for a few hours. I just cannot accept that."
She said the Taliban had agreed to transport her daughter to the border at
"With the start of the military action last night our anticipated joy
immediately turned to dismay."
Ms Ridley was seized near the north eastern city of Jalalabad on September
28 after travelling to the region with two local guides.
She was held in solitary confinement in a house for her first seven days
in captivity before being moved to a prison in Kabul.
She was not carrying her passport and it had been feared she would be
tried on possible espionage charges.
But after intensive diplomacy by consular staff at the British High
Commission in Islamabad and staff from Express Newspapers, the Taliban
authorities announced her release on Sunday.
Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said tonight: "I am delighted that Yvonne
Ridley has been released from custody in Afghanistan, and can now be
reunited with her family.
"I know what a great relief this must be for them, especially at such a
difficult and uncertain time.
"I am sure that Yvonne's many friends and journalist colleagues in the UK
and all around the world will welcome this news as much as I do."
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