BAGHDAD, Iraq – U.S. journalist Micah Garen (search), who was kidnapped in Iraq more than a week ago, was released Sunday in the southern city of Nasiriyah. Garen spoke to Al-Jazeera television, confirming his release.
Garen was interviewed by telephone by the station moments after an aide to Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr (search) said the American had been released.
Garen thanked al-Sadr's representatives in Nasiriyah (search) and everyone else who worked to secure his release.
Garen and his Iraqi translator, Amir Doushi, were walking through a market in Nasiriyah on Aug. 13 when two armed men in civilian clothes seized them, police said.
Doushi also was freed, said an aide to al-Sadr, Sheik Aws al-Khafaji.
Garen said Sunday he had been taking pictures with a small camera when a misunderstanding happened with people who did not approve, he said without elaborating.
On Thursday, the kidnappers released a video of Garen surrounded by armed, masked gunmen and threatened to kill him if U.S. troops did not leave Najaf, where they had been battling al-Sadr's militia, within 48 hours.
Al-Sadr's representatives condemned the kidnappings, and al-Khafaji had been working in recent days to get Garen and Doushi released.
"The kidnappers listened to the call that we made during Friday prayers, and they contacted us and we asked them to bring him to [al-Sadr's] office and promised that no one would pursue them," al-Khafaji said Sunday night. "They released him today, half an hour ago."
Al-Khafaji said Garen was in "very good condition."
Garen was working on a story about the looting of archaeological sites in Iraq when he was abducted, said his fiancee, Marie-Helene Carleton.
Garen worked for Four Corners media, identified on its Web site as a "documentary organization working in still photography, video and print media."
He has taken photographs as a stringer for The Associated Press and had a story published in The New York Times. His photographs also have appeared in U.S. News & World Report.
Scores of foreigners have been kidnapped in recent months by insurgents and criminal gangs seeking to extort ransom or with the political motive of trying to force foreign troops and companies to leave the country.