Al-Sadr Militia Releases US Hostage Held in Iraq

Randy Michaels appears on TV in military uniform
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 17, 2012 4:42 PM CDT
In this image taken from TV Saturday March 17, 2012, showing a man identified as Randy Michaels, center, who is purported to be an American contractor, in Baghdad, Iraq.   (AP Photo/MASAR TV)
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(Newser) – An Iraqi militia linked to Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr released a former US soldier today after keeping him prisoner for nine months, Reuters reports. Identified as Randy Michaels, the American appeared on television in a US military uniform without insignia, alongside two lawmakers from al-Sadr's movement. Speaking briefly to reporters, Michaels said he began his Iraq deployment in 2003 and stayed on after serving for 15 months.

He stayed in Iraq "in a civilian capacity from then until June of 2011, when I was taken hostage by elements of Yom al-Maoud," he said, referring to a branch of al-Sadr's army called the Promised Day Brigade. Michaels said his captors told him that his "release has been for humanitarian purposes and there was no exchange involved." A speaker in Iraq's parliament said the militia released Michaels because the US had withdrawn its forces from Iraq.

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