(WASHINGTON) — On the first anniversary of his kidnapping, the wife of a 71-year-old Maryland man abducted in Pakistan and held by al Qaeda is pleading for his release, saying he is “not in good health” and needs immediate attention from doctors.
“One year ago my husband, Warren Weinstein, was kidnapped while working in Pakistan,” said Elaine Weinstein in a statement released Monday. She said that her husband has a heart condition, high blood pressure and severe asthma. “We fear that Warren’s health will deteriorate if he is not allowed to see the doctors and specialists that have helped keep him alive in recent years.”
Elaine Weinstein also said her family was “devastated that it has been a year since he has been with us… Our grandchildren are growing and changing so fast. They miss their grandfather and ask for him every day. It is so difficult to explain why he can’t be with them.”
Weinstein, a former Peace Corps and USAID official, was working for a private contracting company in Lahore, Pakistan when gunmen broke into his house and took him away. He had told employees he was due to finish his work for J.E. Austin and leave Pakistan very soon.
Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri first claimed that al Qaeda was holding Weinstein in December 2011, and implied that he would use his hostage as a bargaining chip to free “captive soldiers of al Qaeda.”
“[President] Obama has the power, capacity and authority to free [Weinstein],” said Zawahiri. “He could also leave him in captivity for years, and if he does something stupid, kill him.”
In March, Zawahiri demanded the release of Pakistani doctor Aafia Siddiqui, “blind sheikh” Omar Abdel-Rahman and members of Osama bin Laden’s family in return for Weinstein.
In May, Al Qaeda released a tape of Weinstein in which he begs President Obama to give in to the demands of the terrorist organization to save his life.
“My life is in your hands, Mr. President,” Warren Weinstein says in the video, which was released. “If you accept the demands, I live. If you don’t accept the demands, then I die. It’s important that you accept the demands and act quickly and don’t delay.”
“I’ve done a lot of service for my country, and I would hope that my country will now look after me and take care of me and meet the demands of the mujahedeen, he continued.”
In today’s statement, Elaine Weinstein says her husband “loves Pakistan and lived there for eight years so he could dedicate his time and energy to working with the people.”
“My only hope is that Warren will safely come home and be with me, our children and grandchildren, and the people who love us.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Rafael Romo and Emanuella Grinberg, CNN
Samira Said and Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN
Debra Goldschmidt, CNN
Sara Ashley O'Brien, CNN