Canadian hostage freed in Iraq

Canadian importer-exporter freed in Iraq; Naji al-Kuwaiti released Tuesday and left Iraq Wednesday, says Ottawa

A Canadian importer-exporter taken hostage in Iraq last week has been released, said the minister responsible for Canadians abroad.

Naji al Kuwaiti of Mississauga, Ont., was released in Baghdad on Tuesday and left Iraq on Wednesday. It's not clear whether he is immediately returning to Canada.

Dan McTeague, parliamentary secretary to the minister of Foreign Affairs, said the department helped with al Kuwaiti's release.

"Our officials played an important role in negotiating his release," said McTeague.

Al Kuwaiti, who was taken hostage on April 28, is in good health, he said.

Earlier in the week, McTeague had suggested al Kuwaiti had not been kidnapped for political or religious reasons.

On Tuesday, the National Post reported that al Kuwaiti's kidnappers called his wife and demanded a $50,000 ransom.

When asked if a ransom was involved, McTeague said he could not confirm it.

Al Kuwaiti's family has requested no details about the release be divulged and are concerned about the amount of media attention they are receiving, he said.

Another Canadian taken hostage in Iraq, Rifat Mohammed Rifat is still missing. No one has heard from him since April 8.

McTeague said officials at the department are trying to get information about Rifat.

Montreal aid worker Fadi Fadel, the first Canadian taken in a recent spate of kidnappings involving foreigners in Iraq, returned home late last month.