Speaking for the first time since the outbreak of the hostage crisis last week, the wife of Kenji Goto, the Japanese journalist now being held by the Islamic State group, released an audio statement Thursday begging the Jordanian and Japanese governments to save her husband.
“My husband and I have two very young daughters. Our baby girl was only three weeks old when Kenji left,” a woman, who identified herself as Goto’s wife, Rinko, said in the statement reportedly made to BBC News Thursday.
“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,” she said.
“I beg the Jordanian and Japanese Government to understand that the fates of both men are in their hands.”
The Islamic State group has taken Goto hostage and demanded that Jordan release Sajida al-Rishawi, a would-be suicide bomber now imprisoned in Jordan, in exchange for Goto.
The group set the deadline for the proposed prisoner swap at sunset, Mosul time of Iraq Thursday, which was believed to be 5:30 p.m. Iraq time and 11:30 p.m. Japan time.
The group threatened to kill both Goto and a Jordanian air force pilot, who is also being held by the group, if Amman fails to meet the deadline.
Shortly before the deadline, Amman announced Thursday night that the al-Rishawi was still in Jordan because the extremist group had yet to provide proof that the Jordanian pilot, Lt. Mu’ath al-Kaseasbeh, was still alive.
Jordan said it is ready to free al-Rishawi, a female prisoner on death row, in exchange for al-Kaseasbeh. Amman has also indicated that it has demanded the release of Goto along with the pilot in the deal.
“We asked for evidence that the pilot is still alive and we have not received anything yet. We insist on this demand,” Jordanian government spokesman Mohammed al-Momani told reporters in Amman.
According to Rinko’s statement, which was posted on Twitter by BBC News and on SoundCloud by senior BBC producer Stuart Hughes, she exchanged several emails with the Islamic State group after the hostage crisis erupted on Jan. 20.
“In the past 20 hours the kidnappers have sent me what appears to be their latest and final demand,” she said.
“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.”