Irish journalist Rory Carroll, who was abducted in Iraq, was last night freed unharmed. Rory's mother, Kathy, said it was her birthday yesterday and her son's freedom was the best present she had ever received.
The 33-year-old, who began his career in Belfast, was kidnapped at gunpoint on Wednesday morning in Bagdad, whilst working for the Guardian newspaper.
Shortly after 8pm yesterday, as a team of top Irish government officials prepared to fly out to the Iraqi capital, news broke that the Dubliner had been released.
He phoned his parents to tell them that he was "perfectly OK" and was in an Iraqi government compound having a beer, his relieved father Joe O'Carroll said last night.
"He just said: "I am safe and well and I have all my limbs on. I was in my cell and representatives of the Iraqi government came for me, they had a government car waiting. I have been in Baghdad all the time'," said Mr Carroll.
The reporter's father, who is a former Irish Times North America correspondent, thanked people throughout the island for their prayers and support. "It's just a kind of a miracle for us that he has been released so soon. We're just grateful to everybody who has contributed to this," he said.
The Guardian's editor, Alan Rusbridge, said: "We're overjoyed that Rory has been released safe and sound. We'd like to thank all those in London, Dublin and Iraq who played a role in freeing him.
"Both British and Irish governments have been extremely helpful, as have many journalistic colleagues around the world and sympathetic groups and individuals in Baghdad."
Friends and fellow reporters gathered at a Bagdad hotel, where Rory was living and working, to celebrate his release.
Among them was Irish Times journalist Lara Marlow, who said she believed Rory would fly out of Iraq today, possibly back to Ireland to be with his family.
Initial suspicions that Moqtada Al Sadr's Mehdi Army was responsible appeared to be contradicted by unconfirmed, reports the AP. I.L.