March 29, 2005

Romanian Journalists Taken Hostage in Iraq, Plea for Help (UPDATED)

Sorin_Dumitru_Miscoci.jpgUPDATE 10:40 PM: Reports are coming in that a fourth hostage was taken. The fourth hostage is an American......Check main page for updates......


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Three Romanian Journalists have been kidnapped in Iraq. The three victims are Marie Jeanne Ion, Sorin Dumitru Miscoci, and Edward Ovidiu Ohanesian (although the MSM is still reporting the last man as simply 'Ovidiu', his first name is Edward).

As we have noted many times before, paying the ransom demands of hostage takers often leads to more hostage taking...eh, Giuliana Sgena?

Images: top, Prima TV camera man Sorin Dumitru Miscoci; bottom, Prima TV reporter Marie Jeanne Ion

Marie_Jeanne_Ion.jpg
AP:

Three Romanian journalists had finished interviewing Iraq's interim prime minister hours earlier when one of them sent an ominous text message back to her newsroom: "Help, this is not a joke, we've been kidnapped."

The three were abducted Monday night near their Baghdad hotel, officials said Tuesday - the latest journalists to be taken hostage in Iraq.

They were identified as reporter Marie Jeanne Ion, 32, and cameraman Sorin Dumitru Miscoci, 30, from Bucharest-based television station Prima TV, and Romania Libera reporter Ovidiu Ohanesian, 37.

Petre Mihai Bacanu, managing editor of Romania Libera newspaper, said the three disappeared late Monday, shortly after interviewing interim Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi.

Bacanu said no group had claimed responsibility and no ransom demand had been made.

The three were abducted about 8:30 p.m. from a street next to the hotel, which is not in the city's heavily fortified Green Zone, a hotel employee who works at the reception desk told The Associated Press by telephone.

A group from the Romanian Embassy told the hotel staff that their driver reported the three had been kidnapped, the employee said. The hotel, where other foreign journalists also stay, is in Baghdad's upscale Jadriya neighborhood and is surrounded by a concrete barrier, he said.

A Prima TV statement said Ion called the newsroom, speaking a mixture of Romanian, Arabic and English, and was heard apparently talking to her abductors.

Image right: Eduard Ovidiu Ohanesian reporter for 'Romania Libera' newspaper,Guardian:
Prima TV said Ion had made a mobile phone call to the station shortly after the three were abducted.

"Don't kill us, we are from a poor country and we have no money," Ion was quoted as saying.

Their translator said that they were from Romania, a poor country and don't have money to pay a ransom. All I know they have been taken by force and we can't reach them any more," Mr Dumitru said.

The disappearance of the three Romanians is just the latest kidnaping incident involving journalists in Iraq.

In December, a pro-American President was elected in Romania. Even more importantly, President Traian Basescu was elected publicly proclaiming his support for U.S. policy in Iraq.

Romania has 800 troops in Iraq and President Basescu made a surprise Easter visit to Iraq on Sunday.


Image: Marie Jeanne Ion (L) and cameraman Sorin Miscoci (R) from Romania's Prima TV

UPDATE 11:22 (Central): The Sgrena effect has begun. FT:

Romania's government may face its first test in sustaining public support for the country's military presence in Iraq after three Romanian journalists went missing in Baghdad on Monday, presumed kidnapped.

One official in Bucharest said the government expected “some negative public reaction”, but added that much would depend on how the crisis was resolved....

Romania has been a strong supporter of the US mission in Iraq since the 2003 invasion. But an opinion poll released on Tuesday showed 55 per cent believed their country's 800 troops in Iraq should be brought home.

I understand 'old Europe' wanting to see democracy fail in Iraq, but 'new Europe' as well?

UPDATE 1:08 (Central): A well informed source tells me that rumors have begun circulaiting that Ansar al-Sunna is responsible for the abduction of the three Romanian journalists.

This would indeed be odd given that the journalists were abducted in Baghdad.

Developing.......

Others: Chad at In the Bullpen, Interested Participant, Opinion Bug, Hyscience, Digger,

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 09:26 AM | Comments |