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Cablegate: Chad: Godbold Update 10/30

VZCZCXRO4573
RR RUEHTRO
DE RUEHNJ #0849/01 3041814
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 311814Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY NDJAMENA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5842
INFO RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 1748
RUEHNM/AMEMBASSY NIAMEY 3010
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 2269
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT 0107
RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI 0442

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 NDJAMENA 000849

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

PARIS AND LONDON FOR AFRICA WATCHERS, CA/ACS, RABAT FOR
LEGATT

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CASC PTER LY CD
SUBJECT: CHAD: GODBOLD UPDATE 10/30

REF: A. NDJAMENA 832
B. NDJAMENA 825

1. (SBU) Summary: Seized Amcit Cash Steve Godbold has been
moved to a location deeper in the heart of the Tibesti, but
his colleagues in N'Djamena are still confident that he is in
good health and being well treated. The Red Cross has been
contacted and is ready to facilitate his release, but they
cautioned that they would not be involved in negotiations.
Press releases characterizing Godbold as working with a U.S
Government-funded project are misleading, and a corrected
press release should be issued. End summary.

2. (SBU) Charge, RSO, PAO and Consular Officer met with
colleagues of seized American Cash Steve Godbold Carl Hodges
and Mark Ortman and two Ndjamena-based International Red
Cross (ICRC) staff members on October 30 to discuss the
latest developments in the case. Charge briefed attendees on
her meeting with the Chadian Secretary of State for the
interior (reftel A) and informed them that she had also
discussed the case on October 26 with the President's Civil
Cabinet Director, Mahamat Hissein. Hissein informed Charge
that the Presidential Advisor for International Relations,
Youssouf Saleh Abbas (himself a former MDJT rebel) would be
tasked with handling the matter on his return from
Libreville. Hissein described the situation as very
concerning. He volunteered that he thought the rebels were
doing it for money. He expressed exasperation that - despite
years of GOC negotiations with the MDJT - the MDJT was never
satisfied.

3. (SBU) Godbold's colleagues were concerned that press
reports link Steve to the U.S. Government. They stressed
that Steve was assisting the Chadian Association for the
Development of the Tibesti in his capacity as a friend of
individuals in the association. He was not a subcontractor
of the U.S. government and was not working for the project.
Press reports have characterized Godbold as either a
"sub-contractor" or "working with the project" which gives an
erroneous impression of his relationship with the U.S.
Government. They were also concerned that the name of their
U.S.-based organization (TEAM) was being used in press
releases. They explained that they preferred to be referred
to use the Committee for the Coordination of Missionary
Activities of the Evangelical Church in Chad (French acronym
EET/COCOAM) which is the body under whose auspices they
operate in Chad. CDA agreed that a revised press release
should be sent out clarifying Godbold's relationship with the
USG (comment: this will be cleared through PA/Washington and
should be available there as well. End comment).

3. (SBU) Hodges informed CDA that his organization had
decided to send out a crisis management expert in a week if
the situation was not yet resolved. Hodges was grateful to
learn that expert hostage negotiation teams were available
from the USG if needed, but he did not think that this was
required for the time being. Godbold's wife and children will
return to the United States next week.

4. (SBU) Ortman informed the group that senior Tubu member
Hader Adji (please protect) had been in contact with MDJT
leader Choa Dazi (see reftel B for CDA discussion with Adji).
The possibility of releasing Godbold to Libya or Niger was
discussed. Adji reportedly told Dazi that release in Libya
was a non-starter. Release in Niger was a possibility, but
release in Chad would be optimal. Red Cross participants
noted that they do not have a delegation in Libya and
therefore would not be able to facilitate his release there.
Niger would be a possibility. Ideally the rebels would agree
to release Godbold in a location in Chad. The Red Cross
would need logistics support and Government of Chad assurance
that they were authorized to enter into MDJT territory, but
they would be available to facilitate a hand-over of Godbold
from the MDJT. They could not, however, enter into
negotiations with the MDJT.

5. (SBU) Godbold has not spoken by satellite phone with
anyone since early last week and he is not believed to have
access to a phone. Ortman and Hodges stated that he had been
moved to a more distant location. He was now in the town of
Moudouran - 40 kilometers from Zoumri and 100 kilometers from
Bardai. Despite not having had contact with him, they were
confident that he was in good health and was being well
treated.


NDJAMENA 00000849 002 OF 002


6. (SBU) Hodges and Ortman continue to believe that quiet
negotiations and pressure by the Tubu community will be the
most effective means of gaining Godbold's release.

7. (U) Tripoli minimize considered.
TAMLYN

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