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Wednesday, 3 October, 2001, 04:28 GMT 05:28 UK
Seized journalist girl's birthday ordeal
Yvonne Ridley
Diplomatic efforts are continuing to secure Yvonne Ridley's release
Birthday celebrations for the daughter of captured journalist Yvonne Ridley have been postponed until her mother is safely home.

Diplomatic efforts have been continuing to secure the release of Ms Ridley, who was arrested by the Taleban in Afghanistan last Friday.

Her daughter Daisy, who is nine on Wednesday, has written to the prime minister to ask him to intervene.


When Yvonne comes home Daisy will have her official birthday

Joyce Ridley, Yvonne's mother
She is spending her birthday at her Lake District boarding school.

Daisy's 74-year-old grandmother Joyce Ridley, said: "When Yvonne comes home Daisy will have her official birthday.

"We will have a big party then.

"The school thinks she should just have a normal day, perhaps she can open a few presents tonight."

Mrs Ridley and her husband Allan, of West Pelton, County Durham, have been boosted by cards of support from Yvonne's colleagues and friends.

Emotional strain

She said: "I never dreamed there was so much feeling among the press.

"It made me realise how popular Yvonne is."

But she has admitted to feeling the strain of waiting for news of her daughter.

Daisy's father Daoud Zaaroura, who was married to Yvonne, said he was unaware of any plans for a birthday celebration.

He said: "It is a very difficult situation at the moment."

A senior British diplomat has met a Taleban official to push for the release of arrested British journalist Yvonne Ridley.

The British High Commissioner to Pakistan, Hilary Synnott, called for the early release of the Sunday Express journalist during his meeting with the Taleban representative Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef.

Newspaper delegation

The Foreign Office said it could not reveal Mr Zaeef's reply during the meeting in the Pakistan capital Islamabad, but would be keeping the journalist's family informed.

Northern and Shell, publishers of the Sunday Express, said the company's editorial director and a lawyer would be flying to Pakistan to help to secure the release of Ms Ridley.

A spokesperson for the company said: "Naturally Northern and Shell wish to undertake every reasonable endeavour to ensure the safe return of their journalist."

Yvonne Ridley
Ms Ridley had been filing reports from Pakistan
Ms Ridley and two guides were detained last Friday near the eastern city of Jalalabad in Afghanistan.

She was reportedly dressed as a local woman and was not carrying her passport.

The Taleban had told all foreigners to leave and has not issued any visas to journalists.

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

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Yvonne Ridley's parents, Joyce and Allan
voice their concerns

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See also:

01 Oct 01 | South Asia
Seized journalist 'appears well'
30 Sep 01 | South Asia
Taleban investigate captured reporter
29 Sep 01 | UK
Profile: Yvonne Ridley
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