Entries in Release (10)


Former Senior Taliban Members Released from Pakistani Jails

Hemera/Thinkstock(ISLAMABAD) -- Pakistan's Foreign Ministry Monday confirmed the release of eight taliban prisoners in order to "facilitate the Afghan reconciliation process."

As part of the ongoing peace process, the Pakistani and Afghan governments have agreed on a number of steps to promote the reconciliation process in Afghanistan -- the most important being the release of taliban prisoners.

"It's a one stage at a time process," said one Pakistani government official.

Those released, among others, include several former leaders during the taliban's regime in Afghanistan:

  1. Abdul Bari -- former governor, Helmund
  2. Nur-ud-Din Turabi -- former justice minister
  3. Allah  Daad Tabib -- a former minister
  4. Mullah Daud Jan -- former governor, Kabul
  5. Mir Ahmed Gul -- a former governor.

Monday's announcement of the prisoners' release follows another made in November, when Pakistan released 18 taliban detainees to Afghanistan, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Pakistan intends to release more prisoners in the coming weeks and months in order to show its seriousness in helping the Afghan peace process.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Amanda Knox Shared One Last Moment with Ex-Boyfriend Before Release

Kevin Casey/AFP/Getty Images(SEATTLE) -- Soon after Amanda Knox and her former boyfriend and co-defendant, Raffaele Sollecito, learned they were acquitted of murder charges in an Italian court, the two shared one final moment together before they went free.

In his first sit-down interview since the verdict, Amanda Knox’s father, Curt Knox, revealed to ABC News never-before-heard details about his daughter’s days in prison, including when she saw Sollecito.

“The only time they really got to talk was after the verdict, when they were getting ready to be whisked away in the cars,” Curt Knox said. “They actually went back to the prison in the same car. They hold something in common that very, very few people have ever had to deal with.”

He confirmed that the Sollecitos had been invited to visit the Knox family at their home in Seattle.

“An offer was extended to the Sollecito family to come to Seattle,” he said, “and whether they take us up on that or not is really too early to tell, because  I know that Rafealle is experiencing the same thing that Amanda’s experiencing, and wanting to reconnect with people and try to get back to normal life.”

Curt Knox discussed how his daughter has been readjusting to life back in the United States. He said Amanda Knox, out of habit, occasionally slips back into Italian, a language she became fluent in during her four years in Capanne prison outside of Perugia while she battled charges that she murdered her roommate.

His daughter has also been experiencing a kind of Rip van Winkle wonderment over the pop culture references she had missed while in prison, where there were no electronics. Teen heartthrob Justin Bieber, iPads and Twitter were just some of the now iconic things Knox had never heard of.

“Somebody put out a phony tweet trying to say it was her and I don’t think Twitter even existed when she was arrested,” Curt Knox said. “So it was just totally fake, but it’s those kinds of things that you know times have changed.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Amanda Knox's Inmate Ritual for Leaving Prison

Franco Origlia/Getty Images(SEATTLE) -- Amanda Knox, a prison inmate for the past four years, was careful to observe inmate rituals as she left her Italian cell earlier this week, breaking her toothbrush, leaving her bed unmade and starting her journey to freedom by sliding her right foot forward.

The fresh details of her departure emerged as Knox spent her first night in her hometown of Seattle after her exoneration on murder charges and her release from Capanne prison, outside Perugia, Italy.

ABC News has also learned that Knox began keeping a new prison diary in the months before her release.

Knox, 24, tearfully thanked those who supported her when she arrived in Seattle Tuesday night, saying that looking down at Seattle from her plane "wasn't real."

Seattle is a long way from where she was Monday leaving her prison cell, and life in prison did not even come up during a euphoric family reunion Tuesday night until late in the conversation, family lawyer Theodore Simon told Good Morning America Wednesday.

"There are particular rituals that happen when a person knows they are leaving for good," Simon said.

"You take your toothbrush, you break it in half, carry it out, and once you actually are beyond the walls of the prison, you throw your old toothbrush away," Simon said.

"Just as you leave the prison, with your right foot you slide it forward in a kind of a sliding motion which is a symbolic gesture that ... indicates or is hopeful that the next deserving person that should be rightfully released will be released soon," he said.

Knox also left her cell bed unmade before going to court the last time, another prison ritual.

"When you are going to court where there's an expectation that there will be a final decision, you must not make your bed. You must leave it unmade. And of course that's what she did," the lawyer told ABC News.

Knox was clearly under intense stress while waiting to hear her verdict, but she recalled for her family another prison dictum, Simon said.

"Upon arriving in court, when one is about to receive a final verdict, it's required that you keep both of your fists clenched during the reading of the verdict," he said.

Simon said Knox complied with all the routines. "Amanda did not want to buck the ritual," he said.

Knox's mother, Edda Mellas, told People magazine that her daughter spent 22 hours a day in a 18-foot-by-13-foot cell that she sometimes shared with as many as three other women. She did pushups and situps in her cell to keep fit and lost so much weight while in prison that she went from a six 6 to a size 0, she told the magazine.

The former inmate teared up Tuesday night upon her arrival back home in Seattle while her family thanked supporters for believing in her. A supporter shouted, "Welcome Home, Amanda."

"What's important for me to say is just thank you to everyone who has believed in me, who has defended me, who has supported my family," she said. "My family's the most important thing to me right now, and I just want to go and be with them."

Knox's father, Curt, said his daughter was so thrilled to be released from prison that she "pretty much squished the air out of us when she hugged us."

"The focus simply is Amanda's well-being and getting her reassociated with just being a regular person again," he said in front of his home in West Seattle.

He said Amanda would like to return to the University of Washington at some point to finish her degree, but for now, he's apprehensive about what four years in prison may have done to his daughter, though there are no immediate plans for her to get counseling.

"What's the trauma ... and when will it show up, if it even shows up?" he said. "She's a very strong girl, but it's been a tough time for her."

One person not happy with Knox's first day of freedom in the U.S. was Italian prosecutor Giuliano Mignini, who expressed disbelief at the acquittals of Knox and her former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Amanda Knox Got Wild Farewell from Inmates

MARIO LAPORTA/AFP/Getty Images(PERUGIA, Italy) -- Amanda Knox's last hours in Italy were marked by a wild hero's welcome at the prison where she spent the past four years, a James Bond-like car ride to elude pursuing media and a police escort to her plane out of Italy.

Knox's departure was carefully plotted by the USA Italy Foundation in an operation dubbed Return to Freedom, Corrado Maria Daclon, secretary general of the USA Italy Foundation, told ABC News.

"The foundation had been working on the plans to get Amanda out of jail for 20 days, carefully studying how to get her out of jail, her arrival in Rome, transfer to the airport, her arrival and transit through nonpublic area of the airport," Daclon said.

The last leg of the departure plan, he said, was "a 12-man police escort to get her through the airport."

Once at the airport, Knox gave Daclon a big hug for his help. He said that Knox said nothing when they departed. "We just hugged and looked at each other."

Knox is flying home Tuesday and is secluded on an upper deck of her flight to Seattle. Her family is expected to hold a news conference when they arrive in Seattle Tuesday night, but it's not clear whether Knox will speak.

What wasn't in Daclon's plans was the raucous greeting Knox received when she returned to Capanne prison following her stunning acquittal on murder charges by an Italian appeals court. Knox and her ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito spent four years in the prison for the murder of British exchange student Meredith Kercher before they were acquitted Monday.

"All the prisoners, 500 or 600 of them, started to greet Amanda from the windows, like soccer stardom," Daclon said. "It's difficult to describe the happiness of them seeing Amanda and greeting her and seeing her free now -- yelling, 'Oh, wow, ciao Amanda!' It was really, really incredible emotion."

Daclon said Knox walked back into the prison through its central square, surrounded by blocks and blocks of prison buildings with small windows. Two to three prisoners crammed into each small window, cheering and waving clothing in the air, like flags. An elated Knox returned the greeting.

"She was moved and jumped two times to greet them. She was so touched, you can't imagine," Corrado said.

Knox walked through the cheers to collect her belongings from her cell. She then bid farewell to her cellmate and the other girls and some of the police guards, he said.

"They always said that Amanda is a model prisoner, perfect. Never one argument in four years, never one problem with guards or other prisoners. The perfect behavior. ... But I didn't expect a reaction like this," he said.

Corrado accompanied Knox out of the prison and into a waiting car, which took them through a swarm of 100 paparazzi, he said.

They were trailed by a convoy of paparazzi on motorcycles, so they sped off on a country road, changing directions several times until they lost the media. Once they were alone on the road, they headed for Rome.

"We met up with the rest of the family along the way," Daclon said. About 15 family members and friends accompanied Knox to Rome.

"She spent the night in a protected place. It was not a public place, in the area of Rome. Not a hotel as she would have been discovered immediately when she had to hand in her passport to be registered," he said.

Knox and her mother, Edda Mellas, stayed together while the rest of the family registered at a hotel. Daclon picked up Knox again this morning at 8:30 a.m. and headed for the airport.

Knox thanked Daclon in a letter released Tuesday.

"To hold my hand and offer the support and respect through the barriers and controversies of the Italians. There was the Italy USA Foundation, and many who have shared my pain and helped me to survive on hope," Knox wrote.

"I am forever grateful for their caring hospitality and their courageous efforts. Those who wrote to me, who defended me, who stayed close to me, who prayed for me. We are forever grateful. I love you. Amanda," the letter read.

"She told me that she has nothing against Italy and the Italians. She is just upset about the judicial mistake, but she has said she will come back to Italy," Daclon said she told him early Tuesday.

Knox and Sollecito were convicted in December 2009 of killing Knox's roommate Meredith Kercher in a 2007 attack that left the British exchange student partially nude and bleeding to death from a slashed throat. Sollecito was also acquitted of the murder.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Second Iranian Judge Signs American Hikers' Release Order

ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images(TEHRAN, Iran) -- Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, the two Americans hikers who have been jailed in Iran for over two years, could be released as early as Wednesday.

The news comes as a second judge signed their release order on Wednesday.  The day before, the judge had not returned from vacation and was not at court when the hikers' lawyer, Masoud Shafii, showed up for the signature.

Shafii told ABC News the only thing left to process now is the $500,000 bail for each of his clients, which could be completed in a matter of hours.

Bauer and Fattal have been detained in Iran since July 31, 2009 for espionage.  After crossing an unmarked border while hiking in northern Iraq, Iranian authorities claimed the two had illegally crossed over into their territory and charged them with spying for the U.S.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Iranian President Ahmadinejad Guarantees Hikers’ Release

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad insisted that the two imprisoned hikers, Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, will soon be released “as a humanitarian gesture” from Iran where they have been held for more than two years.
“I did say within the next few days and I still say the same thing.  And God willing they will be released very soon,” he told ABC's George Stephanopoulos after landing in New York to attend a meeting at the U.N General Assembly.

Just last week, Ahmadinejad announced that the two Americans would be released on $1,000,000 bail.  When that was delayed, there was hope they would be freed on Tuesday.  But the Iranian judges played politics -- apparently not wanting to give their rival Ahmadinejad a victory, the judge needed to sign the release order was not back in court as expected.

When asked if members of the members of the judiciary are determined to embarrass you and prevent the release of those hikers while you’re here in the United States

"There is no problem.  There is a judicial process that has to be completed and hopefully it will be, God willing," the Iranian president said, responding to Stephanopoulos' comment that members of the judiciary are determined to embarrass him and prevent the hikers' release while he's in the U.S.

As far as guaranteeing that Fattal and Bauer will come to the U.S., Ahmadinejad said, "Yes, we act upon whatever we say.  And if we don’t want to act, we won’t say it."

"But when we said we will release them, we will release them, as a humanitarian gesture," he added.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


American Hikers Fail to Get Needed Signature from Iranian Judge

ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images(TEHRAN, Iran) -- One week after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad promised the release of Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, the two detained American hikers are still no closer to going home.

In yet another setback, the hikers' lawyer, Masoud Shafii, on Tuesday was unable to get the second signature required on their release order.

Shafii had been told the second judge -- needed to sign the document -- was back from vacation, but when Shafii showed up at court, the judge had still not returned.  Shafii was then told not to come back until he's summoned by the court.

Ahmadinejad was hoping the release of Bauer and Fattal would be in congruence to his trip to the United Nations this week.  The Iranian president is in New York for the U.N. General Assembly.

The hikers' release would have been a public relations victory for Ahmadinejad, especially while he's on the world stage.  But his political rivals in Iran are blocking it, and sources there tell ABC News it's unlikely the hikers will be released before he leaves New York at the end of this week.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Bill Richardson in Cuba to Win American Contractor's Release

Kris Connor/Getty Images(HAVANA) -- Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson arrived in Cuba Wednesday to try to win the release of American contractor Alan Gross, who has been detained there since December 2009.

“We are a aware of Gov. Richardson’s trip to Cuba and have been in contact with him,” State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said.  ”While Gov. Richardson is traveling as private citizen, we certainly support his efforts to obtain Alan Gross’s release.”

Nuland said there are no U.S. officials traveling with the former governor, who has also served as the American ambassador to the United Nations, a U.S. congressman, and the U.S. energy secretary, and that he is not carrying any official messages from the administration.

Gross worked as a contractor for the United States Agency for International Development and was detained in Cuba in December 2009 after distributing satellite communications equipment to the island’s Jewish population without permission from the Cuban government.  He was sentenced to 15 years in prison earlier this year, and Cuba’s Supreme Court upheld the decision last month.

Gross’ lawyer Peter Kahn said that he and the Gross family are hopeful the Cuban government will release him.

“We are pleased that the Cuban government invited Governor Richardson to Havana,” Kahn said in a statement on behalf of the family.  “We welcome any and all dialogue that ultimately will result in Alan’s release.  We are grateful to Governor Richardson for his continued efforts.  We hope that the Governor and Cuban authorities are able to find common ground that will allow us to be reunited as a family before the Jewish High Holy Days.”

Gross’ family has appealed for his release on humanitarian grounds.  He suffers from diabetes and is said to have lost a lot of weight in prison.  His wife and daughter have also had medical problems in the past year.

Richardson, who attempted a presidental run in 2008, has previously secured the release of several other Americans detained abroad.  In 1996, he negotiated the release of an American pilot who, along with other Red Cross workers, had been taken hostage in Sudan.  In 2008, he won the release of an American journalist detained in Sudan.  He has also secured the release of Americans in Iraq and North Korea and was involved in discussions to release Americans held in Colombia and Kashmir.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Israeli Vulture Spy Declared Innocent by Saudi Arabia

Picture Of A Vulture Unrelated To The One Caught in Saudi Arabia. Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(RIYADH, Saudi Arabia) -- A vulture that was caught in Saudi Arabia last week and accused of spying for Israel's Mossad is to be released, a Saudi official said.

Prince Bandar bin Saud Al Saud scoffed at the claims, as did much of the world when news came last week that the vulture tagged with a GPS tracker by Tel Aviv University had been caught in the kingdom and accused by the media and locals of partaking in a "Zionist plot."

"These systems are fitted to birds and animals, including marine animals. Most countries use these systems, including Saudi Arabia," Saud told Saudi media on Sunday, according to Emirates 24/7. "We have taken delivery of this bird, but we will set it free again after we [have] verified its systems."

Saud insisted he wasn't defending Israel, but called for calm.

"Some of the Saudi journalists rushed in carrying the news of this bird for the sake of getting a scoop without checking the information," he said. "They should have asked the competent authorities about the bird before publishing such news."

The bird, identified as a Griffon vulture tagged R65, was called a bald eagle by Saud.

After the bird had been captured, Israeli officials were quick to insist that it was part of a program studying migratory patterns.

"The device does nothing more than receive and store basic data about the bird's whereabouts, and about his altitude and speed," an official at Israel's Park and Nature Authority told the Maariv newspaper.

Israel is the subject of feverish conspiracy theories across the Arab world. In December, an Egyptian governor floated the possibility of the Mossad of being behind a string of shark attacks at an Egyptian resort.

The Jerusalem Post reported Monday that the director of the Society for the Protection of Nature, Dan Alon, is "filled with joy to hear of the bird's release."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Israel Asks Obama Administration to Release Convicted Spy

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told parliament Tuesday that he has written a letter to President Obama asking him to release Jonathan Pollard, who was convicted of spying for Israel and has been in prison for 25 years.
The U.S. State Department said Tuesday that it has received a letter from Netanyahu and will be reviewing it, but did not confirm its contents or offer any comment.
This isn’t the first time Netanyahu has asked for Pollard’s release -- he did so back in the 1990s and the case came up again a couple months ago as the U.S. was scrambling to find a way to entice Israel to make concessions that would allow the stalled Mideast peace talks to resume. Both times the U.S. has balked at the requests.
It’s unclear if Netanyahu will make this a prerequisite to a renewed settlement freeze that could restart talks, but his public appeal for Pollard’s release comes as the Obama administration is dispatching top aides to the region in an effort to find a way forward in the new year.
Pollard, a former civilian intelligence analyst, was detained in 1985 and convicted of passing classified information on to the Israelis about Iraq and other subjects.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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