Afghanistan: Norwegian hostage freed after converting to Islam
Norwegian freelance journalist Pål Refsdal (46) and his Afghan interpreter were kidnapped in Kunar province last week. On Thursday the Foreign Office announced they had been freed.
The Taliban group in Watapour who had held him captive refused to confirm or deny that they had received money or anything else in exchange for the Norwegian.
Dawran, the Taliban commander: "We released the journalist because he chose to convert to Islam."
Q: "Did you beat him or threatened him to convert?"
A: "No, we can't force anyone to become Muslim. We don't believe in it. We treated him in a very human manner. We treated him as a guest."
Dawran says that Refsdal promised to go on a four month missionizing tour, and he swore to Allah that he will then participate in a one-year mission, where he would leave his family and go around preaching Islam.
According to TV 2 Nyhetene, Refsdal was kidnapped because he hadn't asked the local Taliban group for permission before traveling in their area, and they therefore suspected him of being a spy.
Norwegian Foreign minister Jonas Gahr Støre said that the kidnappers had demanded 500,000 dollars, but that the Norwegian government did not pay that.
Source: TV 2 Nyhetene 1, 2 (Norwegian)