The New York Times reported Saturday that David Rohde, a Times Pulitzer-winning reporter, had escaped from the Taliban Friday night, ending over seven months of captivity. Rohde had went to Afghanistan to research a book and was taken captive in Kabul on November 10.
“They just walked over the wall of the compound,” Kristen Mulvihill, David Rohde’s wife, told The Times. Rohde escaped with a local reporter, Tahir Ludin. Their driver, Asadullah Mangal, who was also abducted in Kabul, did not escape with them.
They made their way to a Pakistani army scout, who led them to a military base. They were then flown to the American base in Bagram, Afghanistan.
The New York Times and other media organizations, in a rare show of institutional brotherhood, have kept silent about Rohde’s captivity the entire time, reasoning that making the story public might endanger the wellbeing of Rohde and his colleagues. Bill Keller, the executive editor of The Times. “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.”
Keller and the Rohde family released on the details that both reporters were safe, that no money for ransom was exchanged, and no other hostages were freed. They refused to give details in order not to give future kidnappers information to better carry out their abductions and subsequent actions.
Kristen Mulvihill and David Rohde had only been married two months when Rohde was taken captive.
David Rohde’s escape is a bit of good news after the high-profile sentencing of Current TV reporters Laura Ling and Euna Lee last week. Reuters reported that the two reporters were found guilty of illegally entering North Korea and sentenced to 12 years hard labor. The two had been arrested on March 17 for crossing the North Korean border from China and charged with criminal acts against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), which included making a documentary slandering North Korea.
Whereas Kristen Mulvihill and Bill Keller and others worked behind the scenes in attempts to free David Rohde and others, the Laura Ling and Euna Lee saga has been headline news from the onset, with North Korea making their case against the two via the state-operated KCNA television station. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former vice president and Current TV co-founder Al Gore, and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson (who maintains good relations with the North Koreans) have all been involved in attempts to have the Ling and Lee released. Further efforts are underway, with Gore and Richardson expected to make trips to North Korea to plead for the their release.
David Rohde won the Pulitzer Prize along with a team of reporters who covered Pakistan and Afghanistan. The award was announced in April. Was David Rohde informed?
Regardless, there is no doubt he knows now. And he just may have another Pulitzer Prize-winning tale to tell…