Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed outrage and demanded Wednesday that Islamic State extremists release a Japanese journalist, as secret talks in Jordan sought the release of the Japanese and a Jordanian pilot also being held hostage. AP reports:
The effort to free Japanese freelance journalist Kenji Goto and Jordanian Lt. Mu’ath al-Kaseasbeh gained urgency with the release of an apparent ultimatum late Tuesday from the Islamic State group.
In the message, the extremists say the two hostages will be killed within 24 hours — late Wednesday night Japan time — unless Jordan frees Sajida al-Rishawi, an Iraqi woman sentenced to death in Jordan for her involvement in a 2005 terrorist attack on a hotel that killed 60 people.
“This was an extremely despicable act and we feel strong indignation. We strongly condemn that,” Abe said. “While this is a tough situation, we remain unchanged in our stance of seeking help from the Jordanian government in securing the early release of Mr. Goto.”
In Jordan, the pilot’s father, Safi al-Kaseasbeh, beseeched the government “to meet the demands” of the Islamic State group.