U.S. hostage urges Obama to meet al Qaeda demands

DUBAI Mon May 7, 2012 6:44pm EDT

American hostage Warren Weinstein is pictured delivering a message to U.S. President Barack Obama in this handout frame grab from a May 6, 2012 video released by al Qaeda's media arm as-Sahab and obtained by Reuters May 7, 2012. REUTERS/IntelCenter/Handout.

American hostage Warren Weinstein is pictured delivering a message to U.S. President Barack Obama in this handout frame grab from a May 6, 2012 video released by al Qaeda's media arm as-Sahab and obtained by Reuters May 7, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/IntelCenter/Handout.

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DUBAI (Reuters) - An American aid worker abducted by al Qaeda in Pakistan last year has pleaded with U.S. President Barack Obama to meet his captors' demands for the release of prisoners in order to save his life, in a video released by the militant group's media arm.

In the short clip posted on Islamist Internet forums, Warren Weinstein, who was kidnapped in the central Pakistani city of Lahore last August, appealed to Obama to "accept and respond to the mujahideen (holy warriors)".

"My life is in your hands, Mr. President. If you accept the demands, I live; if you don't accept the demands, then I die," said Weinstein, seated behind a table with a small stack of books and what appeared to be plates of food on it.

He said he wanted his wife to know he was "well" and had been provided with all the medicines he needed.

Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri said in an audio recording in December that the group was responsible for Weinstein's abduction and demanded the release of all those in U.S. detention for ties to his Islamist militant group or the Taliban.

He also demanded an end to air strikes by the United States and its allies against militants in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia and Gaza.

White House spokesman Jay Carney called on Monday for Weinstein's immediate release and told a news briefing in Washington: "We cannot and will not negotiate with al Qaeda."

(Writing by Joseph Logan and Isabel Coles; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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