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Sunday, 30 September, 2001, 11:53 GMT 12:53 UK
Taleban investigate captured reporter
Afghan men listen to the radio in Kabul
Afghan radio said the journalist was suspected of spying
A Briton arrested on suspicion of spying in Afghanistan is being well treated while her identity is established, according to a news agency with ties to the Taleban.

The Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) quoted a Taleban official on Sunday saying it had sent "a special mission from Kabul to Nangarhar to question British journalist Yvonne Ridley".


We are providing everything to her

Taleban report
He is quoted as saying: "She is not detained in a room but in a house and walks around in the house and in the courtyard. She is well.

"She wants to eat four or five times a day, she wants cigarettes and fresh clothes, and we are providing everything to her."

However a report in the Sunday Express quotes the Taleban's foreign minister as saying that Ms Ridley will be held in prison for up to a week before being deported.

Fears grew for Ms Ridley on Saturday after Taleban-controlled radio reported that the Sunday Express journalist had been arrested on suspicion of spying.

The paper's editor, Martin Townsend, has made a personal appeal for his employee's safe return, adding that the paper had given its full support to her decision to enter the country illegally.

In a letter published in his newspaper he said she had done so to report on the "growing humanitarian crisis" there.

Family anxious

The Taleban-controlled Radio Voice of Shari'ah, in Kabul, told its listeners Ms Ridley was detained by security forces with the help of local people near the eastern city of Jalalabad on Friday

Yvonne Ridley
Ms Ridley had been filing reports from Pakistan
Ms Ridley's parents and her eight-year-old daughter Daisy in County Durham are anxiously waiting for further details.

The radio report said Ms Ridley had told officials she entered Afghanistan illegally to prepare reports about living conditions inside the country and had left her legal documents in Islamabad in Pakistan.

It also claimed that during interrogation the 43-year-old journalist said she "regretted her action and described it as foolish".

The Foreign Office said it had no independent confirmation of the reports.


We will deal with this with great vigour but also with care because it is a very difficult and sensitive situation

Foreign Office Minister Ben Bradshaw

"We reiterate that we are deeply concerned for her welfare and ask those holding Yvonne to treat her well and resolve the situation quickly," said a spokesman.

"We are in contact with the Taleban over this case."

Foreign Office Minister Ben Bradshaw told BBC News on Sunday: "You have to treat with quite a lot of caution the reports that come from the Taleban because we have had a number in recent days that have proved not to have any foundation."

He added: "We will deal with this with great vigour but also with care because it is a very difficult and sensitive situation."

Afghan refugees in Pakistan
Ms Ridley went to see plight of refugees

Daisy Ridley, who turns nine on Wednesday, made her own emotional appeal to the Taleban in the Sunday Express.

"I just want mummy to come home. I miss her very much and I want them to let her go. She's a very kind person and she wouldn't do anything wrong."

Daisy has been staying with her grandparents Joyce and Allan Ridley in County Durham.


I just want mummy to come home

Daisy Ridley, eight
Mrs Ridley, 74, said she was deeply concerned but had faith that the Home Office and Foreign Office were doing everything they could.

"She was going somewhere to see the refugees because the plight of them was dreadful," she said.

"She seemed her usual self and I did not think there would be any harm done in it."

Ms Ridley has worked for The Sunday Times, the Observer and the Independent and covered stories in Cyprus, Damascus, Lockerbie and Northern Ireland.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's John McIntyre
"Her colleagues say they're concerned for her safety but she'd be coping better than most"
The BBC's Caroline Wyatt in Northern Afghanistan
"The Taleban warned journalists not to enter the country"
Joyce Ridley, Yvonne Ridley's mother
"Yvonne, we just want you home as quickly as possible"

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See also:

29 Sep 01 | UK
Profile: Yvonne Ridley
28 Sep 01 | England
Terror suspect held on US warrant
28 Sep 01 | UK Politics
Net freedom fears 'hurt terror fight'
29 Sep 01 | England
Terror suspect deported to France
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