Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said yesterday the United States would not negotiate with the kidnappers of American journalist Daniel Pearl, and U.S. officials warned them that they would face American retribution.
“If you harm him, you’re doing harm to yourself,” said a senior official, implying a threat to punish anyone who carries out threats against the reporter.
The kidnappers have demanded the release of Pakistani al Qaeda and other suspected terrorists held at U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, legal protection for jailed Pakistanis in the United States and delivery of F-16 fighters to Pakistan.
The senior official would not disclose the measures the United States might be taking beyond saying Washington is working “in support of Pakistan’s efforts” to free Mr. Pearl.
The Powell statement to reporters at the State Department yesterday affirmed a long-standing official U.S. position of refusing to negotiate with terrorists or hostage takers.
Mr. Powell’s refusal came as the group holding Mr. Pearl extended by one day a deadline for killing him.
“With respect to Mr. Pearl, we’re deeply concerned about his safety, and our hearts go out to his family, and I know that his colleagues at the Wall Street Journal are deeply concerned,” Mr. Powell said.
“We’re doing everything we can to try to locate him and rescue him,” he said.
Mr. Powell said he has spoken to Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf about the situation, and “he is doing everything he can.”
He said the kidnappers’ demands are not ones “we can meet or deal with, or get into a negotiation about.”
Regarding the kidnappers’ demand on the prisoners in Cuba, Mr. Powell said the detainees “are being treated humanely.” He said representatives from various countries and organizations who have visited the base “can provide witness to this fact.”
“We are treating them in accordance with international norms and all of the agreements we are party to,” he said.
Mr. Pearl, 38, the Bombay bureau chief of the Wall Street Journal, was abducted in Karachi, Pakistan, on Jan. 23.
An e-mail purportedly sent by the kidnappers and received by Western and Pakistani media yesterday said, “We will give you one more day. If America will not meet our demands, we will kill Daniel. Then this cycle will continue and no American journalist could enter Pakistan.”
A previous unsigned e-mail received Wednesday set a 24-hour deadline before Mr. Pearl would be killed, accusing him of working for the Israeli intelligence agency, the Mossad.
The latest message gave no reason for the extension and did not specify at what time the countdown began.
The first e-mail purporting to be from the kidnappers, sent Sunday, was signed by the heretofore unknown National Movement for the Restoration of Pakistani Sovereignty. The message included pictures of Mr. Pearl with a pistol pointed to his head.
The Wall Street Journal has sent repeated return e-mails denying Mr. Pearl is an agent of any government and appealing for his life to be spared. Mr. Pearl’s pregnant wife and boxing great Muhammad Ali joined those pleas Wednesday.
Mr. Ali, a Muslim, invoked Allah and asked Mr. Pearl’s captors to show “compassion and kindness” and release him.
This article is based in part on wire service reports.