Italian hostage 'to be freed soon'

The Italian hostage Giuliana Sgrena will be released in the next few days, according to an internet statement today in the name of the Iraqi militant group holding her.

The Italian hostage Giuliana Sgrena will be released in the next few days, according to an internet statement today in the name of the Iraqi militant group holding her.

“After the judicial committee of the Jihad Organisation interrogated the Italian captive Guiliana Sgrena, it has been found that the Italian captive is not involved in spying for the infidels in Iraq,” the group said in a statement posted on a website that frequently carries messages from Islamic militants.

“In response to the appeal made by the Muslim Scholars’ Association, we, in the Jihad Organisation, will free the Italian captive in the next few days,” the statement added.

The statement’s authenticity could not be verified.

Giuliana Sgrena, a 56-year-old reporter for the communist daily Il Manifesto, was kidnapped on Friday near Baghdad University.

Italian government officials and Sgrena’s colleagues have publicised the journalist’s pacifist convictions in hopes it might help to win her release.

Il Manifesto has strongly opposed the conflict in Iraq. It has fiercely criticised Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s decision to deploy 3,000 troops in the US-led multinational force.

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