Tahir Ludin, David Rohde, and their driver, Asadullah
Mangal, were kidnapped on November 10, 2008, after Rohde was invited to
interview a Taliban commander in Logar province outside Kabul. Ludin, an Afghan journalist, was
acting as Rohde's translator. Rohde was on book leave from The New York Times at the
time of their abduction. According to the Times,
he was working on the history of American involvement in the region.
The Times said
that late at night on June 20, 2009, Ludin and Rohde climbed the wall of the
compound where they were being held somewhere in Pakistan's North Waziristan in
the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, near the border with Afghanistan. They
traveled by foot to a paramilitary Pakistani Frontier Corps base and the next
day were flown to the American military base in Bagram, Afghanistan.
Ludin told a Times reporter that he and
Rohde had outwitted the guards by keeping them up late playing a board game so
that the men could sneak out while their guards were sleeping. They climbed a
wall and used a rope to lower themselves 20 feet to the ground, according to
Ludin. Rohde has not spoken publicly about their ordeal. Rohde was later reported in the Times as saying that Mangal, a driver who worked for a rental car
agency, had decided to remain with the men who held the group.
During the seven months Ludin and Rohde were held, The New
York Times suppressed reporting of the incident, with the paper's staffers in
New York personally
contacting editors and bloggers who did report on the case, arguing that a
media blackout was in the best interests of the safety of the men. CPJ honored
the request, which the paper said came from Rohde's family. The tactic
effectively shut down coverage of the situation.