Kidnapped British journalist 'to be freed today'

The kidnapped British journalist in Basra and his Iraqi interpreter are to be freed later today, according to Associated Press.

Radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s office in Basra said today that a deal had been reached to free the two CBS journalists, who are reported to have been seized from a hotel in Basra on Sunday.

Harith al-Edhari, a director of al-Sadr’s office, said negotiations had persuaded the captors to free the two. He told AP: ‘We reached an agreement with kidnappers to hand over the Iraqi interpreter to the police command in Basra and the British journalist will be handed over to al-Sadr’s office in Basra this afternoon.”

CBS News confirmed on Monday that two employees were missing, but did not name them.

According to Reporters Without Borders, at least 15 journalists – all Iraqi – are currently being held hostage in Iraq, and last year, 25 journalists and media assistants were kidnapped in Iraq. It also claims that a total of 208 have been killed in connection with their work in journalism since 2003 – the start of the US-led invasion.

The press freedom organisation said: ‘The handover of authority in Basra to the Iraqi government in mid-December has not improved security in the city. The Iraqi authorities must assume their responsibilities and take measures to reinforce the safety of the inhabitants. Yet again it is journalists who are paying dearly for the chronic insecurity in one of the country’s biggest cities.”

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