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Al-Qaida hostage calls for Obama to work for his freedom

  |   Dec. 26, 2013 at 10:42 AM
WASHINGTON, Dec. 26 (UPI) -- A U.S. citizen kidnapped more than two years ago in Pakistan by al-Qaida militants has called on the Obama administration to negotiate for his release.

Warren Weinstein, 72, asked President Obama to step up efforts to win his freedom, saying "you can take hard decisions without worrying about re-election", the Washington Post reported Wednesday.

Speaking on a video message emailed to several media organizations, the former USAID contractor did not specify what measures the United States could take to free him. However, Weinstein said al-Qaida had agreed to allow relatives to visit him in custody if the United states releases unspecified prisoners.

He also addressed U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, saying the initial steps for his release would require "action with respect to their people who are held as prisoners."

It wasn't clear when the video was made, the Post said. The email included a link to a handwritten note dated Oct. 3 purportedly written by Weinstein.

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said U.S. officials were trying to determine the authenticity of the message and reiterated a call for Weinstein's release.

The Obama administration has said it will not negotiate for Weinstein's release.

Weinstein's last video statement was released in September 2012. It appealed to the Israeli prime minister to build support for his release.

In the most recent video, Weinstein said he suffered from a heart condition and acute asthma.

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