Captured Journalist Tweets from Afghani Prison

On Friday September 3rd, at 1:15 PM GMT, two English language tweets appeared on the twitter page of Japanese journalist Kosuke Tsuneoka, who had been missing since April 1st, 2010:

“i am still allive, but in jail.”  9:15 AM Sep 3rd via mobile web

“here is archi in kunduz. in the jail of commander lativ.”  9:22 AM Sep 3rd via mobile web

Only 1 day after his first posts on twitter in roughly 5 months, Tsuneoka was released and has since returned safely to Japan. According to a PC World article by Martyn Williams, this appears to be thanks to some clever trickery on the part of Tsuneoka. On Tuesday, September 2nd, one of Tsuneoka’s captors showed him his new cell phone, a Nokia N70, which is advanced compared to what many people are using in Afghanistan.  The soldier admittedly did not know how to use the phone or the internet.

“He asked me if I knew how to use it, so I had a look and explained it to him,” described Tsuneoka.  Because the phone had not been signed up for internet access, Tsuneoka proceeded to contact the carrier and set it up.

“Once I told them I was able to access, they said ‘how do you use it?’, ‘can we see Al Jazeera?’.”  Tsuneoka said he explained they just needed to type “Al Jazeera” into Google search, but if they were going to do anything online, they should be using Twitter.

“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 realize they were tricked,” he said.

Within 24 hours of posting these messages Tsuneoka was released.

[UPDATE] Oddly, after reading the same story in the Associated Press it appears as though his release may not have had anything to do with the tweets at all. The Associated Press speculates that Tsuneoka was released because he is a Muslim; he converted in 2000.  Either way, three cheers for Tsuneoka for being so crafty and resourceful in such a difficult situation.

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