New York: Three security contractors
including two Americans were released by Iraqi Army forces
after they were held for more than two weeks, the chairman of
the House Committee on Homeland Security announced as he
demanded a full report on the episode.
Republican Rep Peter King of New York identified the men,
who were released yesterday, as Army veteran Alex Antiohos of
West Babylon, New York, National Guardsman Jonas March of
Savannah, Georgia, and Kevin Fisher of Fiji.
King said they were working for a security firm when
Iraqi Ministry of Defence officials rejected paperwork
prepared on their behalf by the Iraqi Ministry of Interior and
began holding them on December 9.
The men weren`t charged with any crimes and King said it
appeared that they were not injured.
He said Antiohos, who lives on Long Island, spoke to his
wife yesterday, and he was expected to be home later this
"She said he seems to be doing well," he said.
King said they were released yesterday after efforts by
his office, the State Department, the US Embassy in Baghdad,
the Defence Department and the White House.
He said he will demand answers from the Iraqis as well
from US authorities about how the incident was handled after
they learned about the men.
"We`re going to have thousands of contractors over there,
including many Americans. Can the Iraqis just take them off
the street and hold them? This is a terrible precedent. We
have to get to the bottom of this," he said.
The New York congressman said he was concerned that US
military authorities had not been notified by the US Embassy
that the men were being held and that embassy representatives
had not visited the men when he learned about it from
Antiohos` wife last week.
"We have to find out if there could have been better
coordination between all the agencies to make sure something
like this doesn`t happen again," King said.
US troops completed a full withdrawal from Iraq this
month after nearly nine years of war.