29 Jan 2015

‘I fear this is the last chance’: wife of IS hostage

The wife of the Japanese journalist being held hostage by the Islamic State group releases her first plea to the governments of Japan and Jordan as a deadline for his release approaches.

Islamic State militants have promised to release Kenji Goto, an experienced war reporter, in exchange for would-be suicide bomber Sajida al-Rishawi.

IS is negotiating the release of al-Rishawi with the Japanese and Jordanian government. They have threatened to kill a Jordanian pilot if al-Rishawi is not at the Turkish border for release “by sunset”.

In her statement, Kenji’s wife Rinko called on the governments of Jordan and Japan to “understand that the fates of both men are in their hands”. You can hear, or read, her statement below.

My name is Rinko. I am the wife of Kenji Goto, the journalist who is being held by a group in Syria.

He was taken from me on 25 October 2014, and since then I have been working tirelessly behind the scenes for his release.

I have not spoken out until now as I have been trying to protect my children and family from the media attention Kenji’s plight has created around the world.

My husband and I have two very young daughters. Our baby girl was only three weeks old when Kenji left. I hope our oldest daughter, who is just two, will get to see her father again. I want them both to grow up knowing their father.

My husband is a good and honest man who went to Syria to show the plight of those who suffer. I believe that Kenji may have also been trying to find out about Haruna Yukawa’s situation. I was extremely saddened by the death of Haruna and my thoughts go out to his family. I know all too well what they are going through.

I became aware that Kenji was in trouble on 2 December when I received an email from the group holding Kenji.

On 20 January I saw the video demand for $200m for the lives of Haruna Yukawa and Kenji. Since then, there have been several emails between the group and me as I have fought to save his life.

In the past 20 hours the kidnappers have sent me what appears to be their latest and final demand:

“Rinko, YOU MUST PUBLICISE AND EXPOSE THIS MESSAGE TO THE WORLD MEDIA NOW! OTHERWISE KENJI WILL BE NEXT! If Sajida is not on the Turkish border ready for the exchange for Kenji by Thursday 29th Jan at sunset, The Jordanian pilot will be executed immediately!”

I fear that this is the last chance for my husband and we now have only a few hours left to secure his release and the life of Lt. Mu’ath al-Kaseasbeh (the Jordanian pilot). I beg the Jordanian and Japanese Government to understand that the fates of both men are in their hands.

I thank the governments of Jordan and Japan for all their efforts. I thank the people of Jordan and Japan for their compassion. My family was based in Jordan when I was young, and I went to school in Amman until I was 12 years old, so I have great affection and fond memories of Jordan and its people.

Lastly I thank my family, friends and Kenji’s colleges for the support they have shown my daughters and me over the last three months.

I pray for the lives of my husband and the Jordanian pilot Lt. Mu’ath al-Kaseasbeh.