U.S. unseals charges over 2008 kidnapping of American journalist

·1-min read

By Mark Hosenball and Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department on Wednesday unsealed an indictment charging Haji Najibullah, an Afghanistan national, with six counts related to the 2008 kidnapping of an American journalist and two Afghan nationals.

The department added that Najibullah, 44, was arrested and transferred to the United States from Ukraine where he will face trial.

The indictment does not name the journalist, but a law enforcement official familiar with the matter told Reuters the case involves David Rohde, a former Reuters and New York Times correspondent now with the New Yorker who was kidnapped by the Taliban in 2008.

Najibullah is facing charges, including hostage taking, conspiracy to commit hostage taking, kidnapping, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, and two counts of using and possessing a machinegun in furtherance of crimes of violence.

Mark Gombiner, a Manhattan-based federal public defender listed in court records as Najibullah's lawyer, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. David Rohde also did not respond to a request for comment.

The indictment says that in November 2008, Najibullah "caused" a group of men carrying machine-guns to detain the Rohde and two Afghans who were helping him. Later, the indictment says, Najibullah and around six armed guards forced the journalist and the Afghans to hike across the border from Afghanistan into Pakistan.

The indictment says that in April 2009, while in Pakistan, Najibullah recorded a videos of the journalist begging for help while a machine-gun was pointed at his face.

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch and Mark Hosenball; Editing by Chris Reese and Aurora Ellis)

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