(MENAFN - Jordan Times) The government is in contact with authorities in the Philippines and the kidnappers of Al Arabiya reporter Baker Atyani in order to ensure his release and safe return back home, a government source said on Saturday.
"We cannot reveal the details of the talks we are having with all parties at this moment as to do so would put Atyani at risk. We are hopeful that our efforts will bear fruit regarding his release," said the official, who spoke to The Jordan Times on condition of anonymity.
Atyani, who was last seen on Jolo Island while on a reporting trip, and his two Filipino crew members failed to return to their hotel last Tuesday, a day after they arrived on Jolo by plane, Agence France-Presse reported on Wednesday, quoting provincial police chief Antonio Freyra.
Jolo is a stronghold of Abu Sayyaf, a small militant movement that has been blamed for most of the country's worst terror attacks as well as kidnappings of foreigners, AFP said.
Meanwhile, the Philippine government maintained that it does not consider the Jordanian journalist a hostage of the rogue Abu Sayyaf group, contrary to the Jordanian government's assertion.
The local media in the Philippine capital Manila quoted deputy presidential spokesperson Abigal Valte as saying that "as far as Manila is concerned, Baker Abdulla Atyani, Southeast Asia bureau chief of Al Arabiya TV network, went voluntarily to the Abu Sayyaf lair in the southern province of Sulu".
"There seems to be no indication to the contrary. There has been no ransom that has been reported or that has come to light. From where we stand, the situation remains the same," said Valte.
On Wednesday, local media quoted interior and local government secretary Jesse Robredo as saying that authorities had been able to verify that the journalist and his team were in Patikul, Sulu, and reportedly not under threat.
"The Jordanian journalist is taking responsibility for his Filipino news crew" There was deception involved since Atyani did not disclose his plans to local authorities of wanting to interview members of the Abu Sayyaf group," he said.
Robredo added that he would recommend to the department of justice and the bureau of immigration that Atyani be deported and banned from entering the Philippines in the future.
"If you imperil yourself and create problems for us, I think you should not be allowed in the country again," he was quoted as saying.