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Family of kidnapped Warren Weinstein calls for proof he is alive

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(JTA) — The family of captive U.S. government contractor Warren Weinstein  called for  “date-specific confirmation” that he is still alive.

In a statement released Thursday, the Weinstein family said a video distributed last week by al-Qaida in Pakistan does not prove that Weinstein is alive because there is no indication of when it was made.

Weinstein, 72, who has been held in Pakistan by al-Qaida for more than two years, in the video calls on President Obama to release al-Qaida terrorists in exchange for his release.

The video message featuring Weinstein, a former Peace Corps and USAID official, was sent to journalists and news services in Pakistan along with a link to a photo of a handwritten note. The testimonial letter is dated Oct. 3, 2013; it is not known when the video was filmed.

Weinstein, of Rockville, Md., was kidnapped in August 2011 outside Pakistan while he was working for J.E. Austin Associates, a private company that advises Pakistani businesses.

The United States has said it will not negotiate with al-Qaida, which the U.S. considers a terrorist organization.

“Warren Weinstein is a scholar and a humanitarian who has spent his entire career working to improve the lives of men, women and children around the world,” his family said in the statement. “Prior to his abduction, he spent seven years in Pakistan working to improve local communities through projects related to dairy production, farming and health care. To be captured and held against his will after a life spent helping others, especially in the sunset of his proud career, is unacceptable. We urge the global community to help us bring him home.”

The family praised U.S. Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.) for his efforts on behalf of Weinstein.

“We must be relentless in our efforts to bring him home and we must maintain a sense of outrage and determination,” Delaney said in a statement issued Thursday.

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