Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts. These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
British journalist released in Iraq -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

LISA MILLAR: Two months after he was kidnapped in the southern city of Basra, a British journalist
has been freed during a raid by the Iraqi army.

Richard Butler, a photographer for the American CBS network, was found with a sack over his head in
a house in Basra.

Mr Butler says he feels weak and tired but he is looking forward to a good meal and seeing his
family again.

Barbara Miller has this report.

BARBARA MILLER: The rescue of Richard Butler is something of a coup for the Iraqi authorities. Last
month they launched a crack down on Shia militias in Basra.

It's had little notable impact.

But raids for weapons and militiamen have been continuing and it was during one of these on a house
in Basra that Richard Butler was found.

The Iraqi Defence Minister is Abdul Qadir Mohammed Jassim.

ABDUL QADIR MOHAMMED JASSIM (translated): The army raided a suspect house and one of the long held
hostages was found and rescued from that house.

BARBARA MILLER: Richard Butler smiled as he talked to the media but said after two months in
captivity he felt weak.

RICHARD BUTLER: I am very tired and I'm looking forward to a decent meal and getting back to my
family.

BARBARA MILLER: The freelance photographer was working for CBS when he and his interpreter were
seized on February 10th from their Basra hotel at gunpoint.

The interpreter was later released but Richard Butler's ordeal continued.

RICHARD BUTLER: Particularly initially they looked after me well. They fed me well. The biggest
problem was being constrained so that I couldn't move. I couldn't stand up. I couldn't, they
allowed sort of five minutes maximum exercise a day or every other day so it was just muscle
wastage and being weak.

BARBARA MILLER: Richard Butler said he became aware of the recent crackdown by the Iraqi army at
which point he says, conditions for him got worse.

RICHARD BUTLER: A couple of weeks ago they'd moved me to a more austere, definitely prison-like
building with a room with no windows and after a few days, all hell broke loose.

I heard gunfire constantly. Mortars being fired from just outside the building and it turned out
that the Prime Minister Maliki had come down with Iraqi troops to retake Basra and it was very,
very intense.

BARBARA MILLER: And in an interview with CBS the journalist went on to describe in detail how he
came to be freed,

RICHARD BUTLER: There was lots and lots of automatic gunfire. There were shouting. Doors being
kicked in and then I heard gunfire in the hallway outside the room that I was being held in.

I heard bullets ricocheting off walls. I heard screaming and then I heard the door being booted in,
into the room I was in and I was aware of someone coming into the room.

There was shouting in Arabic at me and screaming at me and I was worried that he was going to shoot
me. I didn't know who it was so I picked up my Iraqi, my Arabic English dictionary. Showed it to
him. Told him I'm British and then I pulled my head cover off and as I pulled my head cover off, a
second Iraqi soldier came into the room. Instantly realised and understood that I was a hostage and
said "you're safe, you're safe. Come with me".

BARBARA MILLER: A friend of the freed journalist is being quoted as saying he thought Richard
Butler looked pretty good after two months in captivity, saying he could have done with losing a
bit of weight and now has.

But Mr Butler's friend said the journalist would have a lot of explaining to do to his wife before
going back to Iraq again.

LISA MILLAR: Friends like those! That's Barbara Miller.