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British journalist freed after being held hostage in Basra for two months

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders is relieved to learn that Richard Butler, a British journalist who was kidnapped in Basra (590 km south of Baghdad) on 10 February 2008, was rescued by Iraqi soldiers on 14 April. Butler was on assignment for the US TV network CBS News. His interpreter, who was kidnapped with him, was released by their captors three days later.

"We are happy and relieved that Butler is safe and sound again after two months of being held hostage," Reporters Without Borders said. "Iraq continues to be extremely dangerous for journalists, including foreign reporters, five years after the start of the war. We have not forgotten the 14 journalists of whom there has been no word in the many months since their abduction."

Iraqi soldiers found Butler blindfolded and with his hands tied in a house in a Basra district where the military were carrying out a major sweep. It is not clear whether the Iraqi army had been tipped off to his location. An Iraqi officer said his captors were arrested.

Butler and his interpreter were kidnapped by gunmen early in the morning of 10 February outside the Qasr al-Sultan Hotel in Basra, where Butler was staying. Members of Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr's movement succeeded in pressuring the group to release the interpreter three days later.

Three journalists have been kidnapped in Iraq since the start of January. One of them, Haidar Mijwit Hamdane, was found dead in Baghdad. In all, at least 87 journalists and media assistants have been taken hostage in Iraq during the past five years.

Updates the missing CBS journalists' case: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/90676

For further information on the Haidar Mijwit Hamdane (Hisham Mijawet Hamdan) case, see http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/90718

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