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Birthday Limbo in Afghan Jail

November 03, 2001|From Associated Press

DALLAS — Friends and relatives of an American aid worker jailed in Afghanistan are hoping she will be freed for her 30th birthday.

A gift box of party hats, balloons, trick candles and chocolate was to be taken to Dayna Curry in her Afghanistan prison cell by her lawyer in time for her birthday Sunday.

"I'm still praying like crazy they'll get out," said Danny Mulkey, associate pastor of the church in Waco to which Curry and another detainee, Heather Mercer, belong. Mulkey is in Islamabad, Pakistan, working for the women's release and that of their colleagues from the aid agency Shelter Now International.

"If they go, [Curry] can take all that crazy stuff with her and celebrate here," Mulkey said. "We packed lots of chocolate."

Curry and Mercer were arrested in August along with four Germans, two Australians and 16 Afghans and remain in the custody of Afghanistan's Taliban regime. They are charged with preaching Christianity in the strictly Islamic nation. They have denied the allegation.

Although the Americans' trial ended in mid-October, Taliban authorities have yet to render a judgment or indicate any resolution to their case. Family members have not been able to visit the two Americans since Sept. 12, the day after the terrorist attacks in the United States.

Curry and Mercer have sent letters home through their attorneys, and excerpts are posted on the Web site for Waco's Antioch Community Church.

"Though at times everything in me screams otherwise, we'll soon see the purpose and glory in this mad situation," Mercer wrote.

Both women said they are strengthened by the prayers and support of their church, families and others worldwide.

Mercer, 24, said she wrote her letter under a blanket with a flashlight as U.S. airstrikes pounded the city.

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