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Central & South Asia
Taliban releases Italian reporter
Taliban says reporter released after two of its officials were freed.
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2007 10:29 GMT
Mastrogiacomo and his two colleagues were seized in the southern province of Helmand last week [AFP]
Italian journalist Daniele Mastrogiacomo has been freed in Afghanistan after two weeks in captivity, his employer La Repubblica said on Sunday.
 
"We've learned that the journalist was freed," an official at the newspaper told AFP.
The Taliban confirmed they had released the journalist who had been held for spying, along with his Afghan translator.
 
The Karachi-born La Repubblica reporter was released after Afghan authorities freed two Taliban officials, spokesman Qari Mohammad Yousuf told Reuters from a secret location.

"We handed over the two to a third party after we got two of the three people we wanted to be freed," Yousuf said.

 

Execution threat

   

A provincial official said two Taliban were released late on Saturday night. They were spokesman Latif Hakimi and a leader known as Ustad Yasar, Yousuf said.

 

The pair were arrested in Pakistan in 2005 and later handed to Kabul.

 

Media reports said Mastrogiacomo's driver was executed on Thursday.

   

The Taliban had threatened to execute the journalist unless its demands were met.

 

On Saturday, they extended their deadline to give Rome more time to respond.

   

Mastrogiacomo and his two colleagues were seized in the southern province of Helmand last week, where NATO and Afghan forces this month launched a major offensive, and the Taliban said he had confessed to spying for British troops.

 

La Repubblica denied he was a spy and said he had been working for it since 1980.

Source:
Agencies
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