NUJ press release

3 November 2006

NUJ welcomes release of kidnapped photographer

The NUJ is delighted that Gabriele Torsello was today freed by his captors in Afghanistan.

Mr Torsello, known as Kash, was seized along with his Afghan translator more than three weeks ago while travelling on a bus near Kandahar in southern Afghanistan.

Since the day of the abduction, the NUJ has worked closely with Mr Torsello’s family to appeal and campaign for his release. This culminated in a major press conference on Thursday, October 26 at NUJ HQ.

First reports say that Mr Torsello, 36, a convert to Islam, is unharmed and in good health.

NUJ Freelance Organiser John Toner said: "This is wonderful news. Kash has been in our thoughts since the hour of his kidnap, and we have worked with his family to do everything possible to secure his release.

"The commitment and dedication of many of our photographers has been inspiring. We have done everything asked of us, and we are pleased to have been part of the international effort.

"We look forward to welcoming Kash home when he returns to London."

Kash kidnapped

Kash GT: photo © Dan Sumption

Kash GT

London Freelance member Gabriele Torsello - known as Kash GT - was reported kidnapped in Afghanistan as the Freelance was going to press. Strenuous efforts to secure his release are being logged at www.nujphoto.org/

The NUJ is liaising with the International Federation of Journalists and the FSNI (The Italian Journalist union). The FSNI is in touch with the Italian government who are beginning the difficult job of trying to make some contact with those who kidnapped Kash.

NUJ/RSF joint press release

18 October 2006

AFGHANISTAN

Call for active campaign on behalf of kidnapped Italian photographer

‘A journalist is not a bargaining chip’

Reporters Without Borders and the UK-based National Union of Journalists (NUJ) today appealed for an active campaign, especially by Italian journalists, for the release of Italian freelance photographer Gabriele Torsello, who could be killed by the people holding him hostage in Afghanistan.

"A journalist is neither a spy nor a bargaining chip," the two organisations said. "We call on the Afghan and Italian authorities, and all those who might be able to contact his abductors, to do everything possible to help bring about his release. And we reject the kind of blackmail that endangers a journalist whose sole aim was to cover what life is like for the Afghan population."

A petition in French, English, Spanish, Italian, Farsi and Arabic can be downloaded from the Reporters Without Borders website (www.rsf.org).

Reporters Without Borders has not forgotten the terrible execution-style murder of Italian freelance journalist Enzo Baldoni in Iraq in August 2004. There was no significant campaign for his release following his abduction. If there had been one, it might have saved his life.

Torsello’s abductors yesterday said they would release him if an Afghan convert to Christianity who sought asylum in Italy were returned to Afghanistan within four days (by the evening of 21 October). The identity of his kidnappers is still unknown.

Torsello was kidnapped by five gunmen as he was travelling by bus from Lashkar Gah to Kandahar in southern Afghanistan on 12 October. Since then, he has been in telephone contact several times with personnel at a hospital in Lashkar Gah run by the Italian NGO Emergency.

A freelance journalist who has visited many parts of the world over the past ten years, Torsello had been travelling within Afghanistan for several months wearing a black beard and Afghan clothes. Married and the father of one child, he is a Muslim convert whose home is now in London.

Please add this link to any website you can:
<A HREF="http://www.nujphoto.co.uk/gabriele_torsello.htm">
News of Gabriele Torsello (Kash GT)
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Last modified: 4 November 2006 - © 2006 contributors
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