Patrick Gower calls Red Cross, New York Times 'reckless in the extreme'

News 16/04/2019

Newshub national correspondent Patrick Gower has lashed out at the Red Cross and New York Times over the decision to name Kiwi nurse Louisa Akavi, who has been kidnapped by Islamic State.

The New York Times published a report on Akavi's kidnapping on Monday, lifting the lid on years of secrecy surrounding the case.

Media in New Zealand have known about the kidnapping for some time, but it was not reported due to Government concerns publicity would affect Akavi's safety.

Gower told The AM Show on Tuesday the decision to name Akavi was not the Red Cross' choice to make.

"All respect to the Red Cross she worked for them."

she is our citizen and a citizen of our brother and sister country the Cook Islands.

"Our country, if we ask for her name not to be put out there and her identity to be put out there, [to do it] a month after the Christchurch mosque attacks, while she might be in the strictest Islamic population in the world, just seems reckless in the extreme to me."

Islamic State threatened retaliation after the mosque attacks, which saw 50 members of the Christchurch Muslim community killed in March.

The Red Cross said on Monday it stood by the decision to go public on the case.

"Every decision, including this one, was to maximize the chances of winning Louisa's freedom," said International Red Cross director of operations Dominik Stillhart.

Gower wasn't only angry at the Red Cross, he said it's unfortunate the New York Times reported on Akavi, especially as it did not appear to be important for the paper.

"They named her for a down page story that wasn't even a priority for them, she's not from New York City"

She's from Porirua and we should be looking after her.

But now it's out there, and it's yet to be seen what kind of damage has been done.

"What came out this morning that we've got the SAS on the ground, great that's what we should be doing," Gower said.

"We should have our SAS on the ground trying to find her, but we shouldn't be letting the Islamic State know about it and that's exactly what's happened because of this."

The AM Show / Newshub reporter Katie Fitzgerald