MELVILLE, N.Y. – Four journalists missing since March 24 were safe after their release Tuesday from a Baghdad prison where they were held for a week, editors said.
Newsday correspondent Matt McAllester and photographer Moises Saman contacted their editors shortly after 1 p.m. EST to say they had crossed into Jordan and were safe.
Two other missing journalists, Molly Bingham, a freelance photographer from Louisville, and a Danish freelance photographer, Johan Rydeng Spanner, were with the two Newsday staffers. The group had been held in a cell inside the Abu Ghraib prison since March 25, according to Charlotte Hall, Newsday managing editor.
Iraqi security guards went to McAllester's Baghdad hotel room early that morning, and confiscated computers, notebooks, mobile phones, tape recorders and other equipment after several hours of searching the room.
They were then taken to the prison, where they were held until 11 a.m. Tuesday, Baghdad time. They were not physically harmed, and were given basic food, Hall said.
The journalists told their editors that they were asked if they worked for the CIA and the Pentagon, but no explanation was ever given as to why they were taken into custody or why they were released.
McAllester called Newsday Foreign Editor Dele Olojede at 1:06 p.m. EST to say that he was with Saman, heading into Jordan. All he could say on the phone was, "'We'll talk to you later."'
Cheers broke out in the Newsday newsroom after Olojede relayed the news that the two men were safe.
Bingham, a freelance photographer from Louisville who once worked as the official photographer for Vice President Al Gore, called her family on Tuesday afternoon to say that she was safe and traveling with the Newsday journalists. The Danish freelance photographer, Spanner, also was with them.
Saman, 29, and McAllester, 33, had last made contact with editors on March 24, when they e-mailed to say they would be filing material.