ROME – An Italian journalist held captive in Iraq for a month was released Friday, a top government official said.
Giuliana Sgrena (search), who works for the left-wing Il Manifesto newspaper, might be back in Rome later Friday, Italy's Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs Margherita Boniver said.
The release "is confirmed 100 percent," Boniver told Sky TG24 (search) television news.
Foreign Minister Gianfranco Fini expressed "great joy and enormous satisfaction," the ANSA (search) news agency said. The Al-Jazeera (search) television network first reported the journalist's release.
The journalist's father was so overwhelmed by the news that he needed assistance from a doctor, ANSA said. "This is an exceptional day," Franco Sgrena was quoted as saying.
At Il Manifesto's offices, reporters toasted the release with champagne.
"We can't wait to see her, but already we're sending her hugs," Il Manifesto editor Tommaso Di Francesco said. "We're so happy."
Sgrena, 56, was abducted Feb. 4 by gunmen who blocked her car outside Baghdad University. Last month, she was shown in a video pleading for her life and demanding that all foreign troops — including Italian forces — leave Iraq.