Sunday, August 27, 2006

Kidnapped Fox News journalists freed

IBRAHIM BARZAK
Associated Press Writer

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - Militants freed two Fox News journalists on Sunday in the
Gaza Strip, ending a nearly two week hostage drama in which one of the former captives said they were forced at gunpoint to make statements, including that they had converted to Islam.

Correspondent Steve Centanni, 60, of Washington, D.C., and cameraman Olaf Wiig, 36, of New Zealand, were dropped off at Gaza City's Beach Hotel by Palestinian security officials. A tearful Centanni briefly embraced a Palestinian journalist in the lobby, then rushed upstairs with Wiig behind him.

The pair, who appeared to be in good health, then met with Palestinian officials, including Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. The three men sat in a circle of chairs at the Beach Hotel.

"I want to thank everybody. I am happy to be here. I hope that this never scares a single journalist away from coming to Gaza to cover the story because the Palestinian people are very beautiful and kind hearted," Centanni told reporters later at a news conference. "The world needs to know more about them. Don't be discouraged."
...

In a phone call with Fox News, Centanni said that during his capture, he was held at times face down in a dark garage, tied up in painful positions, and that he and Wiig were forced at gunpoint to make statements, including that they had converted to Islam.

"I'm a little emotional because this is overwhelming, but I'm fine," Centanni said. "I'm so happy to be freed."
...

Haniyeh also confirmed the kidnappers were from Gaza, squashing speculation that al-Qaida had directed the abduction. "The kidnappers have no link to al-Qaida or any other organization or faction," Haniyeh said. "Al-Qaida as an organization does not exist in the Gaza Strip."

story link


(Hat tip to Batocchio for the story link)


Buck