A Canadian man and his American wife believed to have been held captive by the Taliban for nearly two years appear in a newly disclosed video where they urge their governments to help free them.
In late 2012, Joshua Boyle, 30, and Caitlin Coleman, 28, were abducted while travelling through war-torn Afghanistan. The couple had recently married and Ms. Coleman was pregnant. What has happened to the family over the past two years since had always been a lingering mystery.
In the video, Ms. Coleman refers to her child, suggesting the couple had a baby while in captivity. The child, however, was not shown in images that were aired, as still and clips, by several international media outlets Wednesday.
This week’s release of the couple’s captivity footage follows the release of U.S. Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl.
The American soldier was freed after five years of captivity in Afghanistan as five Afghan Taliban prisoners were also released from the U.S. prison facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Now, the families of the captive couple – who were first sent the footage by e-mail almost one year ago – are expressing hopes that the publicity surrounding the videos and the apparent prisoner swap will spur action.
“It would be no more appropriate to have our government turn their backs on their citizens than to turn their backs on those who serve,” Patrick Boyle, the father of Mr. Boyle, told The Associated Press. The wire service first circulated the images.
In the video, shot as an apparent proof of life at an undisclosed place and time last summer, the captive couple wear traditional Islamic dress.
“I would ask that my family and my government do everything that they can to bring my husband, child and I to safety and freedom,” Ms. Coleman says in the video recording.
Mr. Boyle, heavily bearded, is shown to have lost weight during his months in captivity.
“We request from our governments to do what is necessary to bring our families together to safety and freedom,” he is recorded as saying.
The couple’s current status is unknown. During a Globe and Mail interview conducted five years ago, Mr. Boyle was a burly university graduate in Toronto speaking about his previous wedding.
At that time, he was in the midst of a short-lived marriage to Zaynab Khadr, who is part of the controversial Canadian family suspected of links to al-Qaeda.
After the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, four of Ms. Khadr’s brothers were separately arrested as teenaged al-Qaeda suspects in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
(The brothers have all since returned to Canada, where one remains jailed. By the terms of a plea deal he agreed to after a decade in Guantanamo Bay, Omar Khadr, 27, is finishing off a sentence for war crimes in Edmonton.)
When Mr. Boyle remarried in 2011, he did so with Ms. Coleman, a long-time friend from Pennsylvania. The couple had travelled as tourists through Latin America and Central Asia before going to Afghanistan.
Ottawa is saying little about the case.
“Canada has been pursuing all appropriate channels to seek further information and officials are in close contact with Afghan authorities,” reads a government statement.
The couple is believed to have been captured in the fall of 2012 in the Wardak province, west of Kabul. Within weeks, the Coleman parents posted a YouTube video appealing for the couple’s release.
Nearly two years later, the parents remain optimistic.
“Of course when he [Bergdahl] was released we felt this was time to get out that our daughter, son-in-law and grandchild were in captivity, being held by the Taliban,” mother Lyn Coleman told a Pennsylvania news site.