Iraqi journalist released for $20,000 ransom
Kirkuk: An Iraqi journalist kidnapped more than a week ago here has been freed after his family paid a USD 20,000 ransom, the Sadrist movement to which he is affiliated has said.
Hussam Dawood Lazim works for Al-Ahad ("Promise" in Arabic) radio and television stations, which are controlled by the bloc loyal to radical Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.
"He was freed this evening and is now with his family," the bloc`s Kirkuk office director Raad al-Sarkhy said.
"The family paid a ransom of USD 20,000 for the release of the journalist," Sarkhy said on Friday, while refusing to identify the kidnappers.
The 22-year-old Shi’ite journalist, who also writes for the Sadrist Al-Nassar newspaper, was kidnapped in front of his Kirkuk home on February 17 by four armed men in a civilian car.
Violence and intimidation are common in the ethnically-mixed oil-rich Kirkuk province.
In its Press Freedom 2009 index published in October, Reporters Without Borders ranked Iraq at a lowly 145th place for media freedom out of 175 countries.
The Baghdad-based Journalistic Freedoms Observatory, a media defence organisation, says 247 media staff, the vast majority of them Iraqis, have been killed since the US-led invasion of 2003.
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