The families decided to make the videos public now, in light of the publicity surrounding the weekend rescue of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was freed from Taliban custody in exchange for the release of five high-level Taliban detainees at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The families said they were disappointed that their children and grandchild were not freed as part of the same deal but were appealing for help from anyone who could give it, including and especially the couple's captors.
"It would be no more appropriate to have our government turn their backs on their citizens than to turn their backs on those who serve," Patrick Boyle, a Canadian judge and the father of Joshua Boyle, said in a telephone interview.
The families said their children were prisoners just as Bergdahl was and should be recognized as "innocent tourists." Though the couple made a mistake by venturing on their own into dangerous territory, they — and especially their child — should not be penalized more than they already have been, the families contend.
"It's an event that just stands out. I think it cries to out to the world: 'This can't be. These people must be let go immediately,'" said James Coleman, Coleman's father.
In a joint written statement Wednesday night, the families called for a humanitarian effort to bring their children and grandchild home. They asked for "compassion" from the captors and for help from anyone with information.
"We do not know why their captors continue to hold them. We desperately want them home, but we do not know what to do. Moreover, we do not know where to turn," the statement read.
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf declined Wednesday to discuss specifics of the case because of privacy considerations. Jean-Bruno Villeneuve, a spokesman for Canada's foreign affairs department, said officials have been aware of the couple's disappearance been working with Afghan authorities.