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U.S. contractor held in Pakistan pleads for help

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By The Los Angeles Times
Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013, 9:42 p.m.

An American contractor kidnapped by al-Qaida in Pakistan two years ago appears in a video that surfaced on Thursday, pleading with President Obama to negotiate for his release and saying he feels “totally abandoned.”

Warren Weinstein, who was snatched from his home in Lahore in August 2011, appears weary and dejected in the 13-minute video bearing the stamp of As-Sahab, al-Qaida's media operation.

“I am not in good health. I have a heart condition. I suffer from acute asthma,” Weinstein, 72, says in the video clip emailed to several journalists covering South Asia, including The Associated Press. “Needless to say, I've been suffering deep anxiety every part of every day.”

At the time of his kidnapping, Weinstein was working as Pakistan country director for J.E. Austin Associates, a contractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development.

“Mr. President, for the majority of my adult life, for over 30 years, I've served my country,” Weinstein says in the video. “Now, when I need my government, it seems that I have been totally abandoned and forgotten.”

The video was accompanied by a letter purportedly written by Weinstein and dated Oct. 3, in which he expresses dismay that his situation has been ignored by the media as well as the U.S. government. The missive pleads for renewed attention to his plight to prevent his being forgotten and becoming “another statistic.”

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said in a statement that her office was working to authenticate the letter and video.

“We reiterate our call that Warren Weinstein be released and returned to his family,” the statement added.

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