British journalist reveals his Iraq kidnap ordeal

Other News Materials 30 April 2008 16:44 (UTC +04:00)

A British journalist held hostage in Iraq for more than two months revealed that he was abducted by men wearing police uniforms and taken first to what appeared to be a police station, reported the dpa.

Richard Butler, who works for the US television network CBS, was kidnapped with his interpreter in the southern Iraqi city of Basra on February 10 and was rescued by Iraqi troops on April 14.

Butler, 48, told the BBC he was staying at the Sultan Palace Hotel with his interpreter when he was woken up in the middle of the night by eight men clad as policemen and armed with AK-47s.

He was taken downstairs to what he said were two white police vehicles then driven to a building he thought was a police station. The captors then sped off to the desert.

"There is only one reason to go out into the desert," said Butler, conveying the fears that might have gripped him, adding "yes" when asked whether he thought he was going to be killed.

Butler was eventually taken to another building where his captors treated him better. His interpreter was released three days after the abduction.

The journalist believed for nine weeks that the interpreter had been killed, which was the lowest point in the abduction saga. He learned the interpreter was alive and well only after his release.

The abductors were genuinely concerned for his wellbeing, the journalist said. When he suffered food poisoning, they brought him food and found him a doctor.

Butler praised the Iraqi army troops who rescued him almost with same speed he was kidnapped.

It was a "very, very lucky find" by the Iraqi troops, Butler recalled. They were looking for a weapons cache.

"They were genuinely very pleased for themselves and very pleased for me," he said.