Entries in Freed (4)


American Released by Shiite Militia in Iraq After Nine Months

Photodisc/Digital Vision/Thinkstock(BAGHDAD) -- In a move that seemed to take everyone by surprise, a Shiite militia in Iraq freed a former U.S. soldier-turned-contractor over the weekend after he had been held for nine months in captivity.

The man was identified as Randy Michael Hultz, who was apparently the prisoner of the Promised Day Brigade, a Shiite militant group loyal to the radical cleric Muqtada al Sadr and which at one time was one of the most violent foes of the U.S. military in Iraq.

During an unexpected and seemingly spontaneous press conference outside the fortified Green Zone in Baghdad, Hultz, who was wearing an Army uniform and standing alongside Iraqi officials, claimed he was abducted by the Promised Day Brigade last June.

Without going into specific details, Hultz said his captors told him his release "is a gift to me, my family and to the American people who oppose the war."

Hultz was then brought inside the Green Zone, where he was turned over to the United Nations before being brought to the U.S. Embassy in order to verify his identity.

There are records that indicate Hultz began serving in Iraq in 2003, quit the military in 2005 and began working in a civilian capacity.´╗┐

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Amanda Knox's First Words Since Regaining Freedom

Tiziana Fabi - Pool/Getty Images(PERUGIA, Italy) -- Amanda Knox's first comments since she was acquitted of murder have arrived in a written letter of thanks to a U.S.- Italian foundation for supporting her through her four-year ordeal.

Knox was thankful people were there, "To hold my hand and offer the support and respect through the barriers and controversies of the Italians. There was the Italy U.S.A. Foundation, and many who have shared my pain and helped me to survive on hope," Knox wrote Tuesday in a letter addressed to the Secretary General of the Italy-U.S. Foundation, Corrado Maria Daclon.

"I am forever grateful for their caring hospitality and their courageous efforts.  Those who wrote to me, who defended me, who stayed close to me, who prayed for me.  We are forever grateful.  I love you.  Amanda," the letter read.

The Italy-U.S. Foundation said Knox departed shortly after noon on Tuesday from Rome's Leonardo da Vinci airport.  After a layover, she's set to board a British Airways flight from London Heathrow to arrive Tuesday evening in her hometown of Seattle.

Daclon confirmed that he was with Knox from Monday night when he went to see her at prison, until Tuesday morning when he left her at the airport gate.  He confirmed that he and Knox went through special security channels and that the rest of the Knox family departed on same flight.

"She is very tried... it's a mix of emotions...," Daclon told ABC News. "Tired by this long limbo of a year's appeal trial...the uncertainty of the result made her more tense and she was very worried."

He said that Knox said nothing when they departed.

"We just hugged and looked at each other," he said.

"She told me that she has nothing against Italy and the Italians.  She is just upset about the judicial mistake but she has said she will come back to Italy," Daclon said she told him early Tuesday morning.

Knox, 24, and her ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, 27, were convicted in December 2009 of killing her roommate Meredith Kercher in a 2007 attack that left the British exchange student partially nude and bleeding to death from a slashed throat.  Sollecito was also acquitted of the murder on Monday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


American Hikers Shane Bauer, Josh Fattal Released from Iranian Prison

ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images(TEHRAN, Iran) -- After being held in Iran for more than two years on espionage charges, American hikers Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal were finally released from jail on Wednesday.

The two will now be handed over to the Swiss Embassy in Tehran, which handles American interests in Iran since the U.S. doesn't have an embassy there, before they are flown back to the U.S.

Earlier Wednesday, Bauer and Fattal's attorney, Masoud Shafii, got the second judge's signature -- needed on their release order -- paving the way for their combined $1 million bail to be processed.

The hikers' release marks a public relations victory for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is in New York for the U.N. General Assembly.  Ahmadinejad had hoped the two would be freed in time for his trip to the United Nations, and even promised their release last week.

Bauer and Fattal have been in Iran's Evin prison since July 31, 2009.  Iranian authorities claimed the two had illegally crossed over into their territory while they were hiking in northern Iraq, and charged them with spying for the U.S.

Sarah Shourd, a third hiker and Bauer's fiancée, was also detained then but was released after posting $500,000 bail in September of 2010.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Somali Pirates Hand Over British Couple After More Than a Year

Paul and Rachel Chandler sit with Speaker of the Somali Parliament Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden. Photo Courtesy - Somali Presidency / A. Wehliya (LONDON) -- A retired British couple is free for the first time since Somali pirates took them hostage more than a year ago.

Retiring early, Paul and Rachel Chandler had planned the vacation of a lifetime – six months at sea. Instead, they were captured by armed pirates in the Indian Ocean and brought to Somalia, where they were held, often at gunpoint.

"We're feeling happy to be alive, happy to be free,” Rachel Chandler said. “Happy to be here, desperate to see our family and our friends.”
The waters near Somalia are infested with pirates.  There are reports they have captured more than 20 ships and are currently holding more than 500 hostages.

Ransoms are often in the millions of dollars for large ships.  Friends and relatives of the Chandlers reportedly raised more than $400,000 for their release.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio´╗┐

ABC News Radio