Expatica news

Kidnapped Spanish journalist freed

21 May 2004

MADRID -A Spanish journalist who was held in a mosque in the Iraqi city of Najaf by militia fighters was released Friday, his employer Spanish National Radio said.

Fran Sevilla was seized early Friday in the holy city, where he had gone to hear the Friday sermon of Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr.

The Spanish National Radio (RNE) correspondent in Iraq told other journalists that he was in a Najaf mosque and that al-Sadr’s men were about to take away his mobile phone.

Sevilla’s last full report, filed early Friday from Diwaniyah, was about the departure of the last Spanish soldiers from Iraq.

RNE news director Javier Arenas said after Sevilla was released that the reporter was “safe and sound”.

Earlier diplomatic, political and military efforts were made to free the veteran journalist, Arenas said.

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero had been informed of events, he added.

The charge d’affaires at the Spanish Embassy in Baghdad, Marcos Vega, was involved in helping to get Sevilla released, diplomatic spokesmen told EFE news agency.

Sevilla has previously worked as correspondent for the official station in battle-torn areas of Central America, the Middle East, the former Yugoslavia, Algeria, Lebanon and Afghanistan.

He was the first Spanish journalist to report the fall of the Taliban directly from Kabul.

In Spain, he has received several awards for his commitment to freedom and tolerance.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news