Romanian journalists and translator released

New York, May 23, 2005—Three Romanian journalists and their translator were released Sunday after nearly two months of captivity in Iraq. The journalists arrived in Romania today.

A group identifying itself as the Muadh ibn Jabal Brigade kidnapped reporter Marie Jeanne Ion and cameraman Sorin Dumitru Miscoci, both of Bucharest-based Prima TV, and reporter Ovidiu Ohanesian, of the daily Romania Libera, on March 28 near their hotel in Baghdad. Mohamed Munaf, their Iraqi-American translator, was also taken hostage.

The captors had threatened to kill the journalists if Romania did not withdraw its 800 troops from Iraq, a demand that the Romanian government rejected. Romanian President Traian Basescu said that his country’s intelligence agents negotiated the release of the journalists and that no ransom was paid.

At least 30 journalists have been abducted in Iraq since April 2004. Two abducted journalists have been killed, while 27 have been released. French reporter Florence Aubenas and translator Hussein al-Saad, who were last seen on January 5, are still in captivity.