Irish Republican News · October 20, 2005
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Irish journalist released in Iraq

An Irish reporter has been released unharmed in Baghdad after being abducted in the Shia-controlled Sadr City yesterday afternoon.

Rory Carroll (33), a reporter for the Manchester Guardian, was held handcuffed in the cellar of a family home for 36 hours.

Mr Carroll, who was covering the trial of Saddam Hussein, was taken at gunpoint in the Iraqi capital yesterday.

He had been conducting an interview in the city with a victim of Saddam’s regime when gunmen confronted him as he left the house. Mr Carroll and one of his drivers were bundled into cars, but the driver was released about 20 minutes later.

At the time of his kidnapping on Wednesday afternoon, Mr Carroll said: “They took me in a car and after 20 minutes switched me to the boot of another one. They stripped me of all my own clothes and dressed me in old clothes.” He was handcuffed and held in a dark basement for 36 hours. “I had only had a rug and pillow. They allowed me out twice for food,” he said.

“I don’t know who took me,” Mr Carroll said. “I’m fine. I was treated reasonably well. I spent the last 36 hours in the dark. I was released into the hands of Dr Chalabi.”

At approximately 8pm Irish time tonight, one of his captors received a mobile phone call after which he was told he was free to go. “He put me in the boot of his car and drove me alone and dropped me in the middle of Baghdad,” Mr Carroll said.

“It was a darkened room, a concrete passageway beneath the ground floor. I had only had a rug and pillow. They allowed me out twice for food.

“I heard a captor in the corridor answer his mobile. He laughed and sounded relieved, and opened the bolted door and said, ‘I am going to let you go’.”

He was then put into the boot of a car and driven into the centre of Baghdad where he was released. Mr Carroll immediately contacted his family.

It is thought that Mr Carroll was abducted by a criminal gang and that his release came under pressure from the Sadr movement. The journalist may have been helped by his Irish-language passport, as well as his press credentials.

The Dublin government said it had used its contacts right across Europe in an effort to secure Mr Carroll’s release, but Taoiseach Bertie Mr Ahern said there had been no direct contact with Mr Carroll’s kidnappers.

A “high-powered” five-member team had been assembled by the Dublin government to make political and diplomatic contacts on the ground in Iraq. It is understood that delegation, which had been due to fly out, will not be travellong.

Mr Carroll is currently under the protection of the Iraqi government in the heavily fortified Green Zone of the city.

“He told me that he had been released, that he was perfectly OK and in an Iraqi government compound having a beer,” said his father, retired journalist Joe Carrol.

“He just said: ‘I am safe and well and I have all my limbs on. I was in my cell and representatives of the Iraqi government came for me, they had a government car waiting. I have been in Baghdad all the time’.”

The Guardian said “his release came after intense diplomatic pressure” and that “he attributed his freedom to the intervention of the Iraqi government”. Muslim, Catholic and Protestant clerics, and the Irish and British governments, had called for his release.

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© 2005 Irish Republican News