Briton kidnapped in Iraq released: Foreign Office
LONDON (AFP) - A British civilian contractor, Gary Teeley, who was kidnapped in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah has been released and is safe and well, Britain's Foreign Office said.
"We can confirm Mr Teeley has been released and is safe and well with coalition forces," the spokesman said.
"He is in the hands of the coalition forces," added the spokesman, who was unable to give details of Teeley's release or his location.
The Foreign Office had said on Friday that Teeley, a 37-year-old married father of five, had gone missing in Nasiriyah on Monday.
Italian soldiers serving in the southern Iraqi city confirmed that Teeley was in hospital but in good shape, the Italian ANSA news agency reported.
Spokesman Giuseppe Perrone said his release followed pressure by Italian forces.
"Sunday morning our special forces carried out a targeted action against the headquarters of supporters of the radical Shiite leader Moqtada Sadr to check that there were no weapons," he was quoted as saying.
As a result of this and "thanks to the local population those who had the hostage felt under pressure and freed him.
"Our troops then took him into their care," Perrone added.
"This operation shows that our method of collaboration and dialogue with the local authorities is winning," he said.
"I'm just grinning ear to ear at the moment," Terry Teeley told Sky News.
"I am just so happy. I've only found out the last three or four minutes myself."
He said he knew nothing about what had gone on behind the scenes to secure his cousin's release.
Asked how the family had felt when they first heard Teeley had gone missing, he said: "Disbelief, disbelief. You just don't expect it, one of your own. I could not believe it."
Qatar's Al-Jazeera satellite channel reported that Teeley had been moved to a military base after being released and turned over to coalition authorities.
He was freed "with the help of Arab tribes in the region," the news channel added, quoting its correspondent in the area.
Teeley, originally from southeast London, is based in the Middle East as a consultant for a laundry company, according to the Foreign Office.
He was believed to be working for a Qatari firm in Nasiriyah.
Unconfirmed reports said he might have been abducted as he and colleagues left a US air force base where they worked.
Teeley is one of several foreigners taken hostage in Iraq over the past week, including three Japanese civilians whose captors reportedly threatened to execute them unless Japan pulls its troops out of the war-ravaged country.
An unknown group also said it held 30 foreigners and would behead them if coalition troops did not withdraw, but there was no confirmation.
Another group threatened to kill a presumed US national identified as Thomas Hamill if the siege of Fallujah was not lifted. Hamill was believed to be the man shown in Australian television footage of a captured foreigner.
And a German foreign ministry spokesman said that two German security guards missing in Iraq were probably dead. A British newspaper reported that the two had been killed in a firefight with Iraqi rebels near Fallujah.
No other Britons were thought to be held hostage.