18 Mar 2012

Militant group in Iraq says it has released US soldier

8:09 pm on 18 March 2012

A militant Shia group in Iraq says it's released a former American soldier it kidnapped last year.

The group, which is loyal to Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, announced the release in a pre-recorded news conference.

It showed a man in US military uniform saying he was kidnapped in June, but was in a civilian capacity at the time.

A US state department official said the man was now with the US embassy in Baghdad after he was handed over to the UN mission in the Iraqi capital.

A UN spokesperson did not identify the man.

In video of the news conference released by The Promised Day Brigade a person dressed in a US military uniform said he had been deployed to Iraq in 2003, and stayed there for 15 months. He said he was abducted on 18 June last year, when he was working as a civilian.

"I was taken inside Baghdad and have been kept in and around different locations within the city by al-Maoud [Promised Day Brigade]," he said.

"It was explained to me that my release has been for humanitarian reasons and that there was no exchange involved."

A BBC correspondent reports that the announcement appears to have taken everyone by surprise, including the US.