EU urges release of European journalists in Iraq

22nd February 2005, Comments 0 comments

BRUSSELS, Feb 21 (AFP) - EU foreign ministers on Monday called for the immediate release of a French journalist and her Italian counterpart missing or held in Iraq, along with the liberation of all other hostages in the country.

BRUSSELS, Feb 21 (AFP) - EU foreign ministers on Monday called for the immediate release of a French journalist and her Italian counterpart missing or held in Iraq, along with the liberation of all other hostages in the country.

The EU "reaffirms its strongest condemnation for terrorist acts, murder and hostage-taking Iraq. The two European journalists ... as well as all other hostages must be freed immediately," they said in a statement.

French journalist Florence Aubenas, 43, and her Iraqi guide Hussein Hanun al-Saadi have been missing since January 5, while Italian reporter Giuliana Sgrena, 56, was abducted on February 4 in central Baghdad.

The appeal from the EU foreign ministers was made on the eve of separate summits at NATO and EU headquarters in Brussels at which US President George W. Bush was to appeal for more European help in rebuilding Iraq.

Their statement also referred to one "other European hostage," Minas Ibrahim al-Yussufi, an Iraqi-Swede who is secretary general of Iraq's Christian Democratic Party who was kidnapped on January 28 after he took a taxi to party headquarters in the northern city of Mosul.

Sgrena was seen in tears last Wednesday pleading for her life and for the withdrawal of Italian troops from Iraq, in the first video broadcast showing the reporter since she was kidnapped.

"Withdraw from Iraq, these people must not suffer any longer," she begged in the short video that was aired on Italian TV stations as parliament voted on financing Italy's military deployment in Iraq through June 30.

Aubenas wrote for the left-leaning Paris daily Liberation, while Sgrena represented the communist daily Il Manifesto.

Yussufi was seen in a video last Thursday sitting in front of a black banner bearing the name of the "Iraqi Vengeance Brigades." His captors had threatened to behead him if they are not paid a ransom for his release.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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