Kidnapped Romanian Journalists Freed

BUCHAREST (Armenpress)–Three Romanian journalists–among them one ethnic Armenian–held hostage in Iraq since last week have been freed–Rompress news agency reported.

Journalist Marie-Jeanne Ion and her cameraman Eduard Ohanesian–from Prima TV and Sorin Miscoci of the Romanian newspaper Libera–were taken hostage March 28 along with their guide–Iraqi-American Mohamed Munaf–on the outskirts of Baghdad.

A video of the visibly frightened hostages was broadcast March 30 by the Arab satellite channel Al-Jazeera.

The reports of their release came as the arrest was announced of a Syrian-Romanian businessman who said he had been in contact with the kidnappers.

"A Syrian-Romanian–Omar Hayssam–was arrested yesterday on the request of prosecutors," said a spokesman for the Romanian president’s office–Adriana Saftoiu.

On March 29–Hayssam had told Romanian television stations that he had been "contacted by the kidnappers," who had demanded an undisclosed ransom–which he had refused.

Hayssam is close to an Iraqi-American businessman–Mohamed Munaf–who was kidnapped at the same time as the three Romanians. Munaf had funded the trip to Iraq by the three journalists and served as their guide in Baghdad. But Romanian media had later questioned Hayssam’s credibility.

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