In video, American abducted in Pakistan says he feels abandoned

CNN
Thursday, December 26, 2013 - 11:35am

Captured American Warren Weinstein looks tired and pale and speaks in steady monotone in pleading for his freedom to President Barack Obama. In the video released by al Qaeda on Christmas Day, he says he feels abandoned and forgotten since his abduction more than two years ago.

"The years have taken their toll," Weinstein, 72, says in the 13-minute video. He says he is not in good health and that he suffers from acute asthma. He appeals to Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, the media, the American public and finally his family.

"Nine years ago, I came to Pakistan to help my government and I did so at a time when most Americans would not come here," he said. "And now, when I need my government, it seems I have been totally abandoned and forgotten."

CNN cannot independently confirm the authenticity of the video, which was first posted on The Washington Post website. It was the second apparent proof of life in which Weinstein makes a direct plea to the Obama administration. The first was released in May 2012.

The State Department said it is working to authenticate the video statement. Spokeswoman Marie Harf reiterated the government's call for Weinstein to be released.

U.S. officials have repeatedly said Washington will not bargain with al Qaeda.

Weinstein was abducted August 20, 2011, from his home in Lahore, Pakistan, shortly before he was planning to return to the United States. Gunmen posing as neighbors offered food, then pistol-whipped Weinstein and his driver and tied up his guards, according to U.S. Embassy and Pakistani officials.

In the latest video, Weinstein is dressed in a light gray track suit jacket and a black cap. He looks very different than when he was captured; he is gaunt and sports a salt-and-pepper beard.

"Needless to say, I've been suffering deep anxiety every part of every day, not knowing what is happening to my family and not knowing how they are and because I am not with them," Weinstein said.

He said his captors have agreed to let his family visit him, but only if Obama agrees to do the same for al Qaeda members held by the United States.

"Unless you continue to try to get President Obama and his administration to actively pursue my release, we may never see each other again," he said.

Weinstein was employed by J.E. Austin Associates Inc., a U.S. consulting firm based in Arlington, Virginia, that is a USAID contractor. He is a world-renowned development expert, according to the company's website.

No one else appears in the latest video of Weinstein. In it, he appeals to Obama as a family man.

"I am, therefore, appealing to you, on a humanitarian basis, if nothing else, in asking that you take the necessary actions to expedite my release and my return to my family and to my country. Our country."

And, towards the end, he focuses on his wife and family.

"I would like them to know I love them very much and I think about each and everyone on of them every moment of every day of my captivity."

Weinstein's wife, Elaine, who lives in Rockville, Maryland, was not immediately available for comment.
 

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