Governor Richardson secured the release on humanitarian grounds of New Mexico journalist Paul Salopek and two colleagues following a meeting with Sudanese President Lt. General Umar Hassan Ahmad Al-Bashir.
Richardson told Al-Bashir that releasing the men was the right thing to do because Paul Salopek was not a spy, but rather, a constituent and a respected journalist who was attempting to do his job telling the story of the people, culture and history of the sub-Saharan region known as the Sahel.
Salopek was detained August 6, 2006, along with two Chadian citizens, Suleiman Abakar Moussa, Salopek’s interpreter, and his driver, Abdulraham Anu. All three were charged with espionage, passing information illegally, and writing “false news”. Salopek, a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize, was on leave from his job as foreign correspondent for the Chicago Tribune on a freelance assignment for National Geographic magazine.