Jordan 'Ready to Swap' Inmate for Pilot Held by ISIL

Jordan 'Ready to Swap' Inmate for Pilot Held by ISIL

TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Jordan said it is willing to swap an Iraqi woman held on death row in Jordan for a Jordanian pilot captured in December by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group.

The statement by Jordanian government spokesman Mohammed al-Momani made no mention of Japanese journalist Kenji Goto, who is also being held by the ISIL.

Efforts to release the Jordanian pilot and the journalist gained urgency with the release late on Tuesday of a purported online ultimatum claiming the ISIL would kill both hostages within 24 hours if the Iraqi woman was not freed.

On Wednesday, al-Momani said in a statement: "Jordan is ready to release the Iraqi prisoner, Sajida al-Rishawi, if the Jordanian pilot, Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh, is released unharmed.''

His comments were carried by Jordan's official Petra news agency.

Japan earlier said it was seeking help from the Jordanian government after ISIL released the video threatening to kill Goto and al-Kaseasbeh.

Japanese and Jordanian officials were reportedly holding talks over ISIL's demand for the release al-Rishawi, who was convicted for her part in multiple bombings in Amman in 2005 that killed 60 people, in exchange for Goto and al-Kaseasbeh.

An angry Japanese prime minister on Wednesday slammed as "utterly despicable" the threat to kill both hostages.

"The government, in this extremely severe situation, has been asking for the Jordanian government's cooperation towards the early release of Mr Goto, and this policy remains unchanged," Shinzo Abe said.

After initially demanding a $200m ransom for the release of the two Japanese men, the group said it wanted Jordan to free Rishawi, a would-be suicide bomber who has been on death row since 2006.

Goto was abducted by fighters in October 2014 after venturing into Syria on a mission to free his friend Haruna Yukawa, Al Jazeera reported.

Yukawa was apparently executed last week after Japan failed to meet an initial $270m ransom demand by Friday.

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