Wednesday, March 21, 2007

He was a better man than you are

In what is on its face a completely crass and tasteless gesture, the above is Italian journalist Daniele Mastrogiacomo's first action upon arriving in Rome after being freed following two weeks in Taliban captivity. Crass and tasteless because his triumphalism gives no sign that his driver, an Afghan, was beheaded during that period. In addition, several Taliban prisoners were freed in exchange for his release, leaving a few more senior Taliban figures free to resume the activities that once got the world united against them in the first place. The victims will of course be mostly anonymous Afghans, about whom this particular reporter, as regards his driver anyway, shows no sign of giving a damn. How about his government?

UPDATE: Controversy is building over the terms of his release and for once we're in complete agreement with the US and UK governments, which have condemned the deal. Not only is Mastrogiacomo's driver dead, but his translator is still missing -- perhaps being held for even more Taliban prisoners. Despite our feeling when drafting this post initially that it was too harsh, even readers of Mastrogiacomo's newspaper, La Repubblica, are apparently closely divided on whether the prisoner exchange was a good deal.

FINAL UPDATE: The translator, Ajmal Nashqbandi, himself a journalist, is reported dead. The price for his release -- set by the ransom for the apparently more important Mastrogiacomo -- was one that the Afghan government could not meet.

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