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Last Updated: Sunday, 17 February 2008, 21:35 GMT
British journalist release delay
Iraq map
The kidnapped Briton has experience of conflict zones
The release of a British journalist seized by gunmen in Iraq is being delayed because his kidnappers fear future arrest, according to reports.

The journalist, who has not been named, and his Iraqi interpreter, who was later released, were seized in Basra.

Both were working for the American network CBS News.

A Shia group that claims to be negotiating with the kidnappers said they want assurances before freeing their remaining captive.

Harith al-Ethari, a spokesman for influential Shiite cleric and militia leader Muqtada al-Sadr, told Iraqi news agency Aswat-al-Iraq (Voice of Iraq): "Negotiations with the kidnappers are still going on to release the British journalist.

Ethari, the head of the cleric's Basra office, said the kidnappers were wary of being caught by police when handing over the reporter.

Precautionary measures

"There is no objection from the kidnappers on the principle of setting him free," he said.

"The kidnappers attribute the delay to precautionary measures meant to protect themselves from any future arrest."

Witnesses said the two men were taken from the Sultan Palace Hotel in Basra, southern Iraq, by at least eight gunmen on 10 February. The interpreter was freed three days later.

The kidnapped Briton is a married photojournalist with experience of covering conflicts around the world.

International media watchdogs have reported dozens of journalists killed each year since the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Abducted Iraqi interpreter 'free'
13 Feb 08 |  Middle East
CBS journalists missing in Iraq
12 Feb 08 |  Middle East

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