KILIS, Turkey - A new recording by a man claiming to be journalist Kenji Goto, who is being held hostage by a militant group believed to be the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), was posted on Twitter accounts linked to ISIL on Thursday.
The voice message was posted along with a photo containing Arabic text.
Uploaded at about 8 a.m. Japan time on Thursday, the recording reiterated demands for the release of Sajida al-Rishawi, a woman on death row in Jordan, in exchange for freeing Goto by Thursday at sunset.
The new recording does not accompany a photo of a person or anything else.
Made in English, the 30-second recording started by saying, "I am Kenji Goto Jogo," and concluded with, "If Sajida al-Rishawi is not ready for exchange for my life at the Turkish border by Thursday sunset, 29th of January, Mosul time, the Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kasaesbeh will be killed immediately."
The Jordanian government announced a statement from its information minister that Jordan is willing to release Rishawi in exchange for the release of Kasaesbeh, who is being held hostage by ISIL, on the state-run TV on Wednesday.
However, ISIL did not accept Jordan's request in the latest message and again emphasised its stance to only accept a one-on-one swap between Rishawi and Goto.
The audio made no mention of Kasaesbeh's release, so the Jordanian government's response is drawing much attention.
Mosul is a northern Iraqi city controlled by ISIL. The "Thursday sunset, 29th of January, Mosul time," means 5:30 p.m. local time (11:30 p.m. Japan time).
As the "Turkish border" is an area that the militant group often designates as a place to release hostages, it could mean Akcakale, a southern Turkish city that shares a border with Syria.
Regarding the new recording, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a press conference Thursday, "Putting various information together, the voice is likely to be Mr. Goto's." Suga said the government had confirmed the message before 8 a.m. Thursday.
Minister: Goto part of swap
AMMAN - Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh said Wednesday the priority of Jordan is Kasaesbeh's freedom.
In an interview with CNN, the foreign minister said Goto's release would "of course" be part of a prisoner exchange, revealing that the Jordanian government has been making efforts to free Goto.
While Jordan announced earlier the same day that it is ready to release Rishawi in exchange for the release of Kasaesbeh, it made no mention of Goto.
Jordan's official Petra news agency reported Wednesday afternoon Momani's statement with subtitles that read, "Jordan is ready to release the Iraqi prisoner, Sajida al-Rishawi, if the Jordanian pilot, Lt. Muath al-Kasaesbeh, is released unharmed."
The Petra news agency also carried another subtitle reading that al-Momani said that since the outbreak of the crisis, Jordan's efforts have been aimed at preserving Kasaesbeh's life. The media agency did not mention Goto.