Kidnappers of a Vancouver web publisher are demanding a $150,000 ransom and the release of Taliban prisoners in Afghanistan, according to a Pakistani newspaper.

The News International, an English-language Pakistani newspaper, quoting non-government sources, said along with the money, the hostage-takers are calling for the release of their colleagues from the U.S. prison in Bagram in exchange for the freedom of Khadija Abdul Qahaar.

Bagram holds what the U.S. military claims are captured Taliban fighters.

Citing privacy concerns, Canadian foreign affairs officials will not say who they believe abducted Qahaar or anything about their demands. Up until now, there has been little information about her fate.

Qahaar,  52, was kidnapped two months ago while shooting a documentary on the Taliban in Pakistan's violent Bannu district. A convert to Islam, she had said she wanted to show the human face of the Taliban.

But on Nov. 11, as her shoot was winding down, she was abducted by armed men.

Qahaar was a Vancouver businesswoman involved in internet publishing who used to go by the name of Beverly Giesbrecht. But she became outraged after the United States launched its War on Terror, converted to Islam and founded a pro-Islamist web magazine named Jihad Unspun.

Glen Cooper, a friend and former business associate of Qahaar's, said he was relieved to find out she's still alive, but worried about her health.

"She has a problem with her back and her eyes have been giving her problems over the past few years," Cooper said.


  • Kidnappers of a Vancouver web publisher are not demanding a $1.5 million ransom, as originally reported. In fact, they want $150,000.
    Jan 09, 2009 7:15 PM ET