The New York Times bribed Taliban guards through a private security company with CIA ties as part of its attempt to gain the freedom of one of its reporter and of two people taken hostage with him in Afghanistan, ABC News reports.
The ABC News report said it was not clear whether the bribes played any role in David Rohdes' daring escape Saturday, but American International Security Corporation apparently made several payments of a few hundred dollars over the seven months that he was in captivity.
The Boston-based company also planned a possible armed assault but canceled it when Rohde was moved from Afghanistan into Pakistan, ABC News quoted people involved in the case as saying.
The Times, which had kept the abduction mostly out of the public's eye, broke the news Saturday that Rohde and Afghan reporter Tahi Ludin had scaled a wall to escape their captors in Pakistan the day before.
Rohde and Ludin had been abducted Nov. 10 along with a driver south of the Afghan capital, Kabul. Rohde had been traveling through Logar province to interview a Taliban commander, but apparently was intercepted and taken by other militants on the way.
After escaping, Rohde and Ludin found a Pakistani army scout, who led them to a nearby base, the Times said. On Saturday, the two were flown to the U.S. military base in Bagram, the Times reported.
A U.S. military spokeswoman, Lt. Cmdr. Chrstine Sidenstricker, said the military had not been involved. She could not say whether the State Department or CIA had flown the two to the military facility.
Rohde, reported to be in good health, said his driver chose to remain with their captors and join the Taliban.
In Washington, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the U.S. is "very pleased" that Rohde is safe and returning home. He said the escape "marks the end of a long and difficult ordeal."
Afghan officials confirmed the kidnapping in the days after the abduction, but The Associated Press and most other Western news outlets respected a request from the Times to not report on the abductions because the publicity could negatively affect hostage rescue efforts and imperil Rohde's life.
"From the early days of this ordeal, the prevailing view among David's family, experts in kidnapping cases, officials of several governments and others we consulted was that going public could increase the danger to David and the other hostages. The kidnappers initially said as much," Bill Keller, the Times' executive editor, said in a story posted on the Times' Web site.
"The Times said there had been "sporadic communication" from Rohde and his kidnappers during the last seven months but that no ransom money had been paid.
Kristen Mulvihill, Rohde's wife, told the Times that the two had been married for nine months, "and seven of those David has been in captivity." She thanked the Times, the U.S. government and "all the others" who helped the family during the kidnapping."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.