Imprisoned journalist used Twitter to inform family of his safety

7 Sep 2010

A Japanese journalist imprisoned in Afghanistan managed to send messages through Twitter telling his family and friends that he was still alive while showing his captors how to go on the internet on a new mobile phone.

Kosuke Tsuneoka was freed over the weekend after five months of imprisonment, due partly because he was Muslim, but not before he sent out two messages over Twitter.

The first was posted at 1.15pm GMT on Friday, which said “i am still allive [sic], but in jail.”

Another followed just minutes later, saying “here is archi in kunduz. in the jail of commander lativ,” referring to the fact that he was being held in the Dasht-e-Archi district of Kunduz.

Tsuneoka managed to post these messages after one of his captors asked him for help in using his new phone, a Nokia N70.

The captors were unfamiliar with the internet, and when Tsuneoka brought it up, they was eager to see it.

“I called the customer care number and activated the phone,” Tsuneoka said, which helped him configure it for internet access.

Once connected, his captors wished to access the international news network Al-Jazeera, however, Tsuneoka convinced him to go elsewhere.

“If you are going to do anything, you should use Twitter,” he said he told them.

“They asked what that was. And I told them that if you write something on it, then you can reach many Japanese journalists. So they said, ‘try it’.

“I don’t think they realise they were tricked,” he added.

Tsuneoka was kidnapped in April after travelling to a Taliban-controlled area in northern Afghanistan.

He was released on Saturday night to a Japanese embassy.