German ex-hostage Susanne Osthoff leaves Iraq

21st December 2005, Comments 0 comments

21 December 2005, BERLIN - Susanne Osthoff, 43, who spent more than three weeks in the hands of Iraqi abductors, has left Iraq, the Foreign Office in Berlin said Wednesday, three days after she reached the safety of the German diplomatic mission in Baghdad.

21 December 2005

BERLIN - Susanne Osthoff, 43, who spent more than three weeks in the hands of Iraqi abductors, has left Iraq, the Foreign Office in Berlin said Wednesday, three days after she reached the safety of the German diplomatic mission in Baghdad.

Osthoff, a solo aid worker and archaeologist who has been a longtime resident of Iraq, has told German diplomats she does not want to meet the media. Her family in Germany said they had not heard from her yet.

In a phone conversation with senior Foreign Office official Klaus Scharioth, Osthoff said she wanted to spend a few days in privacy with her 12-year-old daughter, who attends a German boarding school, in a third country.

A German weekly magazine, Stern, reported Wednesday that the abductors had been identified as members of a western Iraqi tribe, the Duleimi. It said German envoys had apparently been in talks with Duleimi mediators for a period of two weeks.

While the kidnappers did make political demands, telling Berlin it should stop helping the Baghdad government, they were ultimately mainly concerned to receive a ransom, Stern said. Germany has not disclosed if any was paid.

Anja Osthoff, 35, sister of the ex-hostage, told Germany's Munich- based BR television the family had not heard from her.

"It would be lovely to see her. Then we could come to terms with it all," said the sister. She said she could understand Susanne Osthoff's decision to stay away from Germany, as it was probably for the sake of the 12-year-old daughter.

"If they were both to come here, the media would waylay them, and that would be terrible for the child."

Susanne Osthoff, who is a convert to Islam, has little contact with her German relatives. Her mother, Ingrid Hala, says she has not spoken with her daughter for five years.

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier thanked Wednesday the emergency team in Berlin that managed the abduction crisis.

DPA

Subject: German news

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