Iraq militants free kidnapped US man, claiming prisoner swap | world | Hindustan Times
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Iraq militants free kidnapped US man, claiming prisoner swap

world Updated: Mar 28, 2010 19:26 IST
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A Shiite militant group freed a US army contractor two months after he was kidnapped in Iraq, claiming on Sunday he was exchanged for its members jailed in US and Iraqi custody.

Assaeb Ahel al-Haq, or League of the Righteous, said earlier that Issa T Salomi, a 60-year-old of Iraqi origin who worked as an interpreter for the US military, was released in the past couple of days.

"The group released Salomi according to a deal with the US army to release several of our leaders who were in US and Iraqi custody," an official from the group told AFP on condition of anonymity.

"The issue was resolved two days ago, Salomi was released and in return a couple of Assaeb Ahel al-Haq members were released. They were detained in Iraqi and American prisons," he added.

"Salomi is in good health and he was not hurt during the captivity period," the official said.

The US Department of Defence announced in an earlier statement that Salomi had been returned to US military control on March 25.

A US military spokesman in Iraq declined comment to AFP about the kidnappers' claims of a deal involving a prisoner swap.

The League of the Righteous had posted an Internet video on February 6 purportedly showing Salomi, shortly after the US defence department said he had been missing since January 23 and launched a search for him.

In the video, the captive read out the group's demands for the release of detainees who had "resisted occupation" and "never been involved in any serious crime against their fellow innocent Iraqis."

He also called for the conviction of employees of US security firm Blackwater, since renamed as Xe Services, accused of killing unarmed Iraqi citizens in 2007.

The League of the Righteous also kidnapped British IT expert Peter Moore and his four bodyguards, also Britons, in Baghdad almost three years ago.

Moore was released unharmed in December last year, and the guards are thought to have been killed, with all but one of their bodies returned.