[QODLink]
Middle East
Captive 'US citizen' released in Iraq
UN in Baghdad confirms it has taken custody of man believed to be US citizen held by Sadrist fighters for nine months.
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2012 06:43
Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army targeted US troops during the nine-year war in Iraq [GALLO/GETTY]

The United Nations Mission in Iraq says it has taken custody of a man who was described as a US citizen, who had been held by Iraqi fighters for about nine months.

US officials said on Saturday the man appeared to be a US contractor.

Radhia Achouri, a UN spokeswoman, did not identify the man, whom she said was staying at the UN compound in Baghdad's fortified Green Zone.

A spokesman for the US embassy in Baghdad also could not immediately identify the man.

Achouri said he was handed over by two Shia legislators who represent the  followers of anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. She did not provide any details.

Abdul Hadi al-Mutairi, a senior Sadrist official, told The Associated Press news agency that the man was a US soldier named Michael Hill who was captured June 18.

Al-Mutairi said the man was wearing a US military uniform when he was delivered to the UN.

Several US officials said he was a private contractor, rather than an active-duty soldier, although he may have previously served in the US military.

'Goodwill initiative'

Hundreds of thousands of contractors, both US and other nationalities, worked alongside US troops and in other support roles throughout the war.

Al-Mutairi said the man was released without any negotiation "as a goodwill initiative toward the American society and to [his] family".

He said the man, whom he said was married and had two sons, was treated well during his nine-month imprisonment, "even though he contributed in the battles in Sadr City and in Najaf".

Al-Sadr is the spiritual leader of the Mahdi Army, a Shia armed group that targeted US troops throughout the nine-year war in Iraq.

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Swathes of the British electorate continue to show discontent with all things European, including immigration.
Astronomers have captured images of primordial galaxies that helped light up the cosmos after the Big Bang.
Critics assail British photographer's portrayal of indigenous people, but he says he's highlighting their plight.
As Western stars re-release 1980s charity hit, many Africans say it's a demeaning relic that can do more harm than good.
Featured
No one convicted after 58 people gunned down in cold blood in 2009 in the country's worst political mass killing.
While hosting the World Internet Conference, China tries Tiananmen activist for leaking 'state secrets' to US website.
Once staunchly anti-immigrant, some observers say the conservative US state could lead the way in documenting migrants.
NGOs say women without formal documentation are being imprisoned after giving birth in Malaysia.
Public stripping and assault of woman and rival protests thereafter highlight Kenya's gender-relations divide.