Parents plead for release of Canadian-American couple held captive in Afghanistan
This frame grab from video provided by the Coleman family shows Caitlan Coleman and Joshua Boyle. (AP / Coleman Family)
Andrea Janus, CTVNews.ca
Published Thursday, June 5, 2014 10:25AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, June 5, 2014 10:54AM EDT
The parents of a kidnapped Canadian man and his American wife “fear for their continued health and safety” and are pleading for help in securing their safe return.
Caitlan Coleman and Joshua Boyle disappeared while travelling in Afghanistan in October, 2012. On Wednesday, the family released two video files that Coleman’s father said he was emailed last July and September, by a man who claimed ties to the Taliban.
The videos are the only evidence the families have that the couple may be alive and well. Coleman was pregnant at the time the couple went missing. The child would be 18 months old now, but is not seen in either video, The Associated Press reported.
“We do not know why their captors continue to hold them,” the joint family statement reads.
“We desperately want them home, but we do not know what to do. Moreover, we do not know where to turn. So we remain hopeful that someone will reach out to us with information on how to get Josh, Caity and our grandchild home. Furthermore, we ask anyone who is in a position to help aid our children to do so.”
Their grandchild needs “basic pediatric care,” the parents say. As well, Coleman needs treatment for a life-threatening liver ailment.
“Though we trust the captors are taking care of them to the best extent possible, we also trust the captors understand the continued care of Caity and our grandchild is our responsibility,” the statement says.
U.S. law enforcement officials investigating Coleman and Boyle’s disappearance believe the videos are authentic, but say they provide few leads as they do not indicate where they were recorded.
According to AP, the two videos are time-stamped May 20, 2013 and Aug. 20, 2013. However, officials say that data can be falsified.
In one of the videos, Coleman is dressed in long black clothing and a head covering, with only her face showing. Boyle is in a white shirt with sleeves rolled up, and his beard is long and scraggly.
"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," Coleman says in the video.
Coleman’s father decided to go public with the videos after U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was freed from Taliban captivity in exchange for the release of five detainees from the U.S. detention centre at Guantanamo Bay.
The couple’s families told AP they are disappointed that Coleman and Boyle have not been brought home under a similar deal.
Coleman and Boyle travelled extensively after meeting online and marrying in 2011. In 2012 they travelled to Russia and then across central Asia before arriving in Afghanistan.
They had planned to return home in December of 2012, ahead of Coleman’s due date.
They were last in contact with their families on Oct. 8, 2012 when Boyle sent an email from an internet café in what AP describes as an “unsafe” part of Afghanistan. The couple last withdrew money from their bank accounts on Oct. 9, in Kabul.
Two months later, Afghan officials confirmed that the pair had been kidnapped in the mountainous Wardak Province, a Taliban stronghold.
The families said the pair wanted nothing more than to return home and raise a family.
“However, their captivity shattered their dream,” the family says.
“During their captivity our grandchild was born. Now Josh and Caity are forced to care for our grandchild while all remain captive. No parents deserve that kind of life. They deserve to be with their friends and family. To not be able to be a part of your child’s transition into parenthood, and our transition into doting grandparents, is gut-wrenching.”