Efforts to Free ISIS Hostage Reach 'Stalemate': Japanese Official

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TOKYO — A top Japanese diplomat said efforts to free a journalist being held hostage by ISIS were in a “stalemate” after the militants’ deadline for a prisoner swap passed without a word of his fate. "The situation is a stalemate. We remain on the alert,” Japan’s Deputy Foreign Minister Yasuhide Nakayama told journalists in Amman, Jordan, late on Friday. “The entire government is working as one to gather, analyze and share information.”

The Islamist group had purportedly said it would kill Jordanian pilot Mu'ath al-Kaseasbeh, being held with journalist Kenji Goto, if a would-be suicide bomber on death row was not released by sunset Thursday. Earlier ISIS said it would kill Goto if the bomber was not freed. On Thursday, Jordan said it was still holding Sajida al-Rishawi, the Iraqi woman ISIS demanded be released. She was jailed for an attempted suicide attack in Amman in 2005.


— F. Brinley Bruton and Arata Yamamoto