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Last Updated: Friday, 21 October 2005, 14:03 GMT 15:03 UK
Kidnapped reporter freed in Iraq
Rory Carroll (Guardian handout/PA)
Guardian reporter Rory Carroll has been in Iraq for nine months

An Irish reporter kidnapped in Baghdad on Wednesday has been freed unharmed, the Guardian newspaper has said.

Rory Carroll, 33, was "safe and well" and was in the Iraqi capital's Green Zone, the Guardian's foreign desk said.

Carroll described his captors as Shia opportunists. He said he had been treated well "apart from a bit of initial roughness", the paper said.

Carroll's father Joe said: "He sounded in terrific form, and he told me that he had a beer in his hand."

"And he assured me that he had all his limbs, and that he was, you know, really well. And he sounded great," he said.

We'd like to thank all those in London, Dublin and Iraq who played a role in freeing him
Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian

Carroll said his son's captors had come to "his cell" on Thursday and told him he could go.

The Dublin-born journalist was then driven off in the boot of a car.

Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern, who was involved in efforts to get Carroll freed, said that no ransom was paid.

"To the best of my knowledge no ransom was paid and I'm nearly certain of that," he said but did not comment on whether Iraqi prisoners had been freed in exchange for Carroll's release.

Baghdad interview

Carroll had been in Baghdad with two drivers and an interpreter to interview a victim of Saddam Hussein's regime when he was kidnapped, the Guardian said.

As he left the house where the interview had taken place, he was confronted by gunmen and he and one of the drivers were bundled into a car. The driver was released about 20 minutes later.

It was a darkened room, a concrete passageway beneath the ground floor
Rory Carroll

Carroll told the Guardian: "They took me in a car and after 20 minutes switched me to the boot of another one."

"They stripped me of all my own clothes and dressed me in old clothes."

He said he had been handcuffed and held in a room beneath a house for 36 hours.

"It was a darkened room, a concrete passageway beneath the ground floor. I only had a rug and pillow. They allowed me out twice for food."

He told the paper his captors were Shia.

'Bargaining chip'

"At one point I was told I would be used as a bargaining chip in exchange for al-Sadr people taken in Basra. My fear was that I would be sold on to the Sunni or Islamist groups," he said.

He said he was freed after one of his captors received a mobile phone call.

It is unclear whether three men arrested at the Baghdad house where Carroll was snatched were involved in his release.

But a relative of the person Carroll had gone to interview told BBC News they had had nothing to do with the kidnapping.

Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian, said: "We're overjoyed that Rory has been released safe and sound. We'd like to thank all those in London, Dublin and Iraq who played a role in freeing him.

"Both British and Irish governments have been extremely helpful - as have many journalistic colleagues around the world and sympathetic groups and individuals in Baghdad."

The Muslim Association of Britain was also pleased at his release.

"We have always maintained in [the association] that no journalist serving in Iraq, irrespective of his or her nationality, should be harmed in any way."

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