Freelance reporter freed from Iraq

An American freelance journalist who was brutally kidnapped by gunmen in Iraq has been released after nearly three months in captivity.

29-year-old Jill Carroll, a freelance for the Christian Science Monitor, was working in the notorious district of Al Adel when insurgents shot and killed her translator.

She became the first woman from the United States to be taken hostage in Iraq since the invasion began in March 2003.

Welcoming her release, media freedom groups said the freelance was lucky to escape the fate of 83 other journalists and media assistants who have been killed since the start of conflict.

“We thank all those throughout the world, particularly the major Arabic media, who campaigned for the release of this young journalist,” Reporters Without Borders said in a statement.

The Paris-based group said the release of the freelance came after her sister, Katie Carroll, made an appeal to the kidnappers on Arabic television channels.

In the past week, several Sunni religious figures in Iraq supported the call for safe return of the journalist – an appeal that was echoed throughout the world.

Media freedom groups warned the “huge relief” to the freelancer’s family, friends and newspaper should not distract from the “targeted brutality” that continues against independent news agents in Iraq.

The targeting of media workers for simply carrying out their job was “repugnant,” Reporters Without Borders said, before confirming that Carroll’s abduction takes the number of kidnapped journalists to almost 40.

The lobbyist added, “Our campaign will not be over until the three Iraqi reporters, Rim Zeid, Marwan Khazaal and Ali Abdullah Fayad have been released in turn.”

Richard Bergenheim, editor of The Christian Science Monitor said, “Few will ever know how many people have been working day and night for this result.

“Jill's fellow journalists, her good friends in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East, the Iraqi and American governments, leading clerics throughout the Arab world, and political leaders in Iraq have pursued every venue possible to return Jill to the arms of her family.

“Jill will also soon discover that people all over the world, of all faiths, have been praying for her release.”



 

31st March 2006

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