U.S. photographer abducted, released

New York, October 13, 2004—U.S. freelance photographer Paul Taggart, who was abducted by gunmen in Baghdad on Sunday, October 10, was freed by his captors yesterday.

Taggert, whose is represented by the World Picture News photo agency, told journalists in Baghdad that he was unharmed and had been treated well by his captors.

Taggart was abducted on Sunday, October 10, by armed men in Baghdad’s Habbeya Square while driving to the Shiite neighborhood of Sadr City, according to international news reports.

The Associated Press (AP) quoted Ali Smeisem, an aide to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, as saying that an independent Shiite group had kidnapped Taggart because they thought he was a spy. Smeisem told the AP that al-Sadr pressured the group to release Taggart.

Armed groups in Iraq have kidnapped dozens of foreigners and Iraqis. So far in 2004, at least 21 journalists have been kidnapped, according to CPJ research. Eighteen were freed, one was executed, and two are believed to be in captivity.