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Jordan insists on proof of life before any swap to free IS-held pilot

By Khetam Malkawi - Jan 29,2015 - Last updated at Jan 29,2015

AMMAN — The government on Thursday reiterated that it will not release “prisoner” Sajida Rishawi unless Jordan receives solid proof that Jordanian pilot Muath Kasasbeh is alive.

In a statement to the press at the Prime Ministry, Government Spokesperson Mohammad Momani said after “we receive proof that Kasasbeh is alive, we can proceed with the second stage of negotiations which is the exchange.”

“We want to emphasise what we said yesterday [Wednesday] that Jordan would do the exchange, but we have asked for proof of life from Daesh [Islamic State],” Momani said.

“Rishawi is still in prison in Jordan and the swap can only happen when we receive proof of life,” Momani added.

He added that until the moment of holding the press meeting there was no such proof, but Jordan is having communications in this regard through several channels.

He confirmed that Jordan’s priority is “to ensure that Muath is alive”.

The government on Wednesday proposed a swap involving Kasasbeh and Rishawi, an Iraqi woman on death row in the Kingdom for her involvement in Amman’s 2005 terror attacks.

The brief statement did not mention Japanese journalist Kenji Goto, whom IS claimed Tuesday it would release in return for Rishawi’s freedom, or he and Kasasbeh would be executed within 24 hours. The deadline passed at 4pm Wednesday.

Later in the day, an uncle of the pilot received a phone message, reportedly from IS, saying they would kill Kasasbeh Thursday morning, and urged the family of the hostage to pressure the government to respond to the group’s demand without conditions. 

However, IS on Thursday morning released a new recording purporting to be an audio message by the Japanese hostage saying that Kasasbeh would be killed if Jordan does not release Rishawi and send her to the Turkish-Iraqi border before sunset Thursday. 

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