Irish reporter believed kidnapped in Iraq

Rory Carroll, 33, is the Baghdad correspondent for The Guardian.

rory carroll 298 (photo credit: )
rory carroll 298
(photo credit: )
The Guardian newspaper said Wednesday that one of its reporters has disappeared in Iraq and was believed to have been kidnapped. Rory Carroll, 33, an Irish citizen who is the Guardian's Baghdad correspondent, was on assignment when he vanished, the paper said in a statement. "It is believed Mr. Carroll may have been taken by a group of armed men," the statement said. "The Guardian is urgently seeking information about Mr. Carroll's whereabouts and condition." Carroll's father, Joe, said The Guardian told him three people had been with his son when he was abducted, "and one of them did get a bit roughed up but he was the only one kidnapped." A story in the newspaper's Wednesday edition about Saddam Hussein's trial carries Carroll's byline. He has been based in Baghdad for nine months and previously reported from South Africa and Rome. Carroll had broadcast a live report on the trial on the Romanian news channel Realitatea TV earlier Wednesday. The station said he had been working for them on a freelance basis. Realitatea TV said Carroll had been kidnapped after trying to learn what ordinary Iraqis thought of the trial. Joe Carroll, a former correspondent for the Irish Times newspaper, said his son had tried to reassure him about his safety in Baghdad. "He knew we were worried but he used to reassure us and say that it was not as dangerous as people outside think," Joe Carroll told British Broadcasting Corp. radio. "He said if you observed basic rules and security you would be OK. We knew he was playing it down for our sake and there was obvious danger." Insurgents in Iraq have kidnapped more than 220 foreigners and killed nearly 40. The press freedom group Reporters Without Borders said 72 journalists and their assistants had died in Iraq since the start of the war in March 2003. "Past experience with journalists being taken hostage in Iraq showed that a significant expression of support in the first few hours after the kidnapping were vital," the group said in a statement. "Unfortunately, the safety of journalists is still far from being assured in Iraq and there are grounds for suspecting that tension linked to the start of Saddam Hussein's trial are having repercussions on the press," it said. The last reported abduction of a foreigner was in September, when a video posted on the Internet showed Garabet Jekerjian being held at gunpoint. The Lebanese man works for a company that supplies food and alcohol to coalition troops. The date of his kidnapping was not known; the video was posted Sept. 12. Britain's top official for Northern Ireland, Peter Hain, said the British government would help in any way it could to secure Carroll's release, but urged his abductors to remember that he was Irish. Ireland is an officially neutral nation that was critical of the US-led invasion of Iraq. "He is an Irish citizen and although we are on the ground and may be able to help, it is very important that people out in Iraq, and maybe including those people responsible for this terrible abduction, understand that he is an Irish citizen, albeit working for a British newspaper," Hain told Ireland's RTE radio.