Journos Call for Hostage Release

A group of Romanian journalists gathered in downtown Bucharest (search) on Saturday, calling for the release of three of their colleagues kidnapped in Iraq.

About 30 journalists, supporters and friends of the three gathered outside the presidential palace to demonstrate their support for the kidnapped reporters.

"I hope that we will show that there is solidarity, now that there is an ultimatum," said Cristina Topescu, a senior journalist at the Prima TV (search) station where two of the kidnapped reporters are employed.

The three — Priva TV's cameraman Sorin Miscoci and reporter Marie Jeanne Ion, and reporter Ovidiu Ohanesian of the daily Romania Libera — were kidnapped on March 28 with their Iraqi-American translator.

On Friday, the Arab satellite station Al-Jazeera (search) broadcast a video showing the hostages saying their Iraqi captors would kill them if Romania does not withdraw its 800 soldiers from Iraq within four days.

In the central Romanian city of Sibiu (search), some 200 supporters filed past Miscoci's home and into the city center before attending a church service, national television reported.

Journalists planned to hang large portraits outside the National Theater on Sunday demanding the release of the three.

After the airing of the video, President Traian Basescu cut short a visit to Moldova and returned to Bucharest to meet with the crisis team put together when the journalists and translator disappeared after interviewing Ayad Allawi, who was then Iraq's interim prime minister.

Basescu didn't comment on the hostage-takers' demand, but said officials were working to win the captives' release. "I assure you that I and the state institutions are doing everything," he told reporters.

Parents of the journalists met with Basescu and the crisis team late Friday.

"They told us to calm down because they are in permanent contact with the kidnappers. I am calmer now," though still worried, said Magdalena Ion, mother of Marie Jeanne.