Australian aid worker kidnapped in Afghanistan

An Afghan policeman (R) searches a passenger in the city of Jalalabad, close to the border with Pakistan, on Friday, after reports that an aid worker from Perth has been kidnapped by armed men in Jalalabad. (AFP)
Updated 29 April 2016
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Australian aid worker kidnapped in Afghanistan

SYDNEY: An Australian woman working for a charity in Afghanistan has been kidnapped, the country’s foreign minister said Friday.
Julie Bishop said Canberra was working to secure the release of Katherine Jane Wilson, but insisted Australia does not pay ransoms for hostages.
Wilson, who also uses the first name Kerry, was grabbed in the city of Jalalabad, close to the border with Pakistan, on Thursday, a government official in the area told AFP.
“She visited the city of Jalalabad for a women’s embroidery project,” said Ataullah Khogyani, a spokesman for the governor of Nangarhar province, of which Jalalabad is the capital.
“And unknown masked gunmen abducted her from Police District 2 of Jalalabad city.”
He added that the kidnappers, disguised as police, took her at 4am from a home in which she was staying.
Nangarhar police chief Zrawer Zahed confirmed the abduction by “unidentified gunmen” not long after she arrived on Wednesday evening.
Bishop said she had been in contact with Wilson’s family.
“The details of the reports are still being confirmed but the Afghan authorities certainly believe she has been kidnapped,” she told reporters.
“Our priority is to ensure that she is well, that she’s being treated well, and so that’s what we’re focusing our efforts upon, working with the local authorities. Our embassy in Kabul of course is deeply involved in this matter.”
Asked if Canberra would pay a ransom if one was demanded, she replied: “The Australian government does not, as a matter of policy, pay ransom for kidnappers.”
Wilson’s 91-year-old father Brian Wilson said his daughter had worked in the region with charities related to women’s rights and water security for more than 20 years, and made an emotional plea for her release.
“I feel extremely worried indeed,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
“But I presume she’s a hostage, and that they’ll do their best to keep her alive and not harm her, simply because they want to have something or other in return and it’s not very good having a dead hostage.”


Duterte foes cry foul as Philippine police push sedition charges

Updated 11 min 18 sec ago
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Duterte foes cry foul as Philippine police push sedition charges

  • Thirty-six opposition figures are accused of cyber libel and sedition
  • A series of online videos ahead of May’s mid-term elections alleged that Duterte and his family members were involved in the illegal drugs trade

MANILA: Opponents of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte expressed shock and outrage on Friday at police moves to charge dozens of them with sedition, calling it persecution aimed at stamping out scrutiny of his increasingly powerful rule.
Thirty-six opposition figures are accused of cyber libel and sedition for orchestrating a series of online videos ahead of May’s mid-term elections. The videos feature a hooded man alleging that Duterte and his family members were involved in the illegal drugs trade, which they deny.
The man, who had said he was a witness, later surrendered and appeared with police on television to say his claims were false and that he was cajoled into making the videos by opposition members. They included the vice president, lawyers, Catholic priests, a former attorney general, and incumbent and former lawmakers, the man said.
The justice department is looking into the complaint, which is the latest move against Duterte’s detractors who say the aim is to create a power monopoly for a president who already enjoys a legislative super-majority and a public approval rating of about 80 percent.
Duterte insists he is open to challenges but has shown no qualms about threatening high-profile critics, several of whom he said last month he would jail if they tried to impeach him.
Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said Duterte had no involvement in the police sedition complaint.
“We have nothing to do with this case, not at all, absolutely nothing,” he told news channel ANC. “Let the judicial process do its work.”
Antonio Trillanes, a former senator and Duterte’s strongest critic, described the complaint as “political persecution and harassment” intended to stifle democratic dissent.
A spokesman for Vice President Leni Robredo, who was not Duterte’s running mate and was elected separately, called the complaint “completely baseless.” Her party ally Senator Francis Pangilinan said it was part of a series of moves toward removing her from office.
Leila de Lima, an anti-Duterte senator detained on drugs charges, said it was “hogwash, pure hogwash,” and Samira Gutoc, a candidate in recent Senate elections, urged the police not to become partisan.
“I really am baffled,” Gutoc said of being accused of involvement.