Three Romanian journalists and their translator held hostage for almost two months in Iraq have now been released and are on their way home. Their abductors had set a deadline for their execution of April 27 unless Romania withdrew its 800 troops from the Iraq. The Romanian government made clear it would not pull its forces out of the country. As the journalists make their way back on a military plane, people in Bucharest are preparing to celebrate their arrival. “We are happy and we have the same emotions as the parents of the kidnapped journalists,” said one man. “We hope that all the other kidnapped journalists are freed.”
Others empathised with the journalists’ families. “If I was in the parents’ position,” said another man, “I would feel the same fear for their lives, and now I can feel the same happiness knowing that they are fine.” While details of their release are unclear, authorities said that no money changed hands.
President Traian Basescu said that the country did not negotiate and did not pay any ransom to free the journalists. An Arabic language TV channel said the group decided to release the hostages in response to calls from a prominent Saudi preacher and Romanian Muslims. At Prima TV where two of the hostages worked journalists were delighted at the news of their colleagues’ release. There are still no new indications as to the fate of the French journalist Florence Aubenas taken hostage with her translator in January.