Italians Ransom Journalist for 5 Taliban Prisoners
Widely criticized deal is first swap for a hostage in Iraq or Afghanistan
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 22, 2007 8:28 AM CDT

(Newser) – The Italian government bought the freedom of a kidnapped Italian journalist by arranging the release of five Taliban militants from an Afghan prison. The New York Times says it’s the first time prisoners have been openly exchanged in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan., and the move was widely condemned by U.S. and European officials.

The swop raises fears that  terrorists will be encouraged to abduct more journalists, aid workers and soldiers. At least one of the released Taliban fighters says he plans to return to combat immediately, “grabbing two rifles to begin jihad again to hunt down invaders and fight nonbelievers.”