Man Defends Afghan Kidnapping Story
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) _ An Alabama man who said he was kidnapped by an Afghan warlord issued a statement to defend his story and respond to questions about his background.
But some sources cited by Clark Bowers contradicted his account of his professional work Monday. Bowers also declined to identify an Afghan friend supposedly abducted with him _ possibly the only person who could corroborate the story.
The 16-page statement, faxed to The Associated Press on Sunday, was Bowers’ first detailed public account of his time in the war zone, where he said he was abducted near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border on Jan. 9.
Neither Bowers nor his wife, Amanda, responded to an e-mail request by the AP for additional comment Monday.
In the statement, Bowers, who has traveled the nation as a speaker on behalf of conservative organizations and causes, said he went to the region on ``completely private humanitarian and fact-finding trips.″
Bowers said he and the ``Afghan friend″ were moved frequently by their kidnappers, but did not say what happened to the friend. Bowers said he was tortured and wanted to protect ``all my Afghan friends and their families″ from retribution by his captors.
Bowers has said he was released Jan. 18 after paying $5,000 as ransom.
In the statement, he accused the media of trying to make his abduction story sound like a ``strange hoax″ by raising doubts about his professional background, which came into question after his account of the abduction was reported.
But he apologized for any inaccuracies in his personal biographies, at least one of which contains information Bowers said he had never seen.
``I take full and complete 100 percent responsibility and am sorry for any lack of clarity, innuendo, confusion or errors that have been made in any of my biographical sketches as typed, edited or summarized by me or anyone else,″ he said.
The statement, however, raised new questions about Bowers’ resume.
Bowers said he occasionally referred to himself as being with Fox News because he ``reached an agreement″ with a Fox television station in Dallas to receive reports he did about humanitarian efforts in Afghanistan.
Bowers referred questions about his Fox TV credentials to Patrick Radde, executive producer for KDFW, the network’s station in Dallas. But Radde on Monday denied the station had any agreement with Bowers, who was interviewed by KDFW.
``We considered his reports, but we never agreed to air anything he did,″ Radde said.
The statement also repeated Bowers’ claim that he was once a visiting fellow at Harvard University, but school spokeswoman Rebecca Rollins said Monday school records show only that Bowers was a student in a special program from 1993-96.
Rollins added that the school has no record of the Schwarz Visiting Fellow, a position Bowers claimed he held.
Even if Bowers were a visiting fellow, Rollins said, he would not have the right to call himself ``a Harvard professor,″ as Bowers often does.