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Det var en tilfeldighet som gjorde at irakiske soldater fant den britiske journalisten Richard Butler i Basra mandag. Butler arbeider for amerikanske CBS.

Basra security commander Lt. Gen. Mohan al-Fireji said Butler was sitting on the floor with his head covered by a sack and his hands tied when the troops stumbled upon him.

Butler had been held since Feb. 10, when masked gunmen seized him and his Iraqi interpreter from Basra’s Sultan Palace Hotel.

The interpreter was released within days, but Butler remained in captivity despite claims by radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s office that it was negotiating with the kidnappers for his release.

British journalist rescued in Basra