CAJ renews call for action to free kidnapped journalists

    OTTAWA, Feb. 23 /CNW/ - The Canadian Association of Journalists urges the
prime minister to redouble efforts to secure the release of Canadian
journalists kidnapped abroad.
    Today marks six months to the day since Amanda Lindhout was abducted in
Somalia and more than three months since Khadija Abdul Qahaar was taken on the
Pakistan-Afghanistan border.
    "Every day that Amanda Lindhout and Khadija Abdul Qahaar remain missing
is another day that their lives are in grave danger, and another day of
distress for their families, friends and colleagues," said CAJ president Mary
Agnes Welch.
    "We once again call on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to focus his
undivided attention and all resources possible on finding and rescuing Amanda
and Khadija," Welch said.
    Lindhout was abducted in Somalia on Aug. 23, 2008, along with Australian
photographer Nigel Brennan who is also still missing. Lindhout's kidnappers
threatened to kill her unless a ransom was paid by Oct. 28, a deadline that
passed with no word from her captors. One month ago, on Jan. 23, her
kidnappers reportedly lowered their ransom demand.
    Qahaar was reported to have been seized at gunpoint on Nov. 11, 2008. She
had noted on Oct. 22 that she had serious concerns about that possibility.
    The CAJ's upcoming conference and annual general meeting in Vancouver,
May 22-24, will include sessions on specialized training for journalists
covering conflict zones, being properly prepared for the demands of difficult
beats and traumatic stress.

    The Canadian Association of Journalists is Canada's largest professional
organization for journalists from all media, with about 1,400 members across
the country. The CAJ's primary roles are to provide high-quality professional
development for its members and public-interest advocacy.

For further information:

For further information: Mary Agnes Welch, CAJ president, (204)
943-6575, (204) 470-8862; John Dickins, CAJ executive director, (613)
526-8061; Personne-ressource/French-language contact: Robert Frank, (514)

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