Iraq Swede released by kidnappers

A Swedish citizen who has been held hostage in Iraq for almost two months has been freed, according to the Swedish chief prosecutor Katarina Johansson-Wellin, who has been working on the case.

“I have had verbal confirmation that he has been released,” said Johansson-Wellin to Swedish Radio.

Ibrahim al-Yousifi and his family fled Iraq in 1984 and settled in Jönköping. After the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime he returned to Iraq to establish and lead a new Christian Democratic party.

On January 28th he was travelling from Mosul to Baghdad when he was taken by the Martyr al-Isawy Brigades, until then an unknown rebel group.

In February the first of two videos was distributed by the group. It showed Mr al-Yousifi pleading for his life with a machine gun to his head. In the second, distributed in early March, Mr al-Yousifi called on King Carl Gustav, the Pope and “all honourable citizens of the world” to work on his behalf to secure his freedom.

As well as the removal of US troops, the group was demanding a ransom of 28 million kronor – a fact which experts said undermined their political motives.

That amount was later reduced to 2.7 million kronor but Katarina Johansson-Wellin told Swedish Radio that she had no information about whether any money was handed over for his release.

Sources: Dagens Nyheter, Svenska Dagbladet, SR