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U.S. Citizen Freed After Nine-Month Iraq Detention, UN Sa

March 17 (Bloomberg) -- A U.S. citizen was handed over to the United Nations mission in Iraq by two Iraqi legislators, the UN said in an e-mailed statement.

The man had been held in detention for about nine months by an Iraqi group, the UN said in the statement, without identifying the group. The U.S. State Department said in an e-mailed statement an American was transferred to the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad from the UN mission in Iraq.

The UN and the State Department declined to identify the American. He was handed over today by Deputy Speaker of the Council of Representatives, Quasay Al-Suhail, and Maha al-Douri, a member of the Iraqi Parliament, according to the UN.

The Iraqi news agency Al Sumaria reported that the man was handed over by followers of the anti-U.S. Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

Without identifying himself, the man spoke at a press conference outside the Green Zone in Baghdad today, the Associated Press reported.

Iraqi lawmakers displayed U.S.-issued military and contractor ID cards that identified him as Randy Michael Hultz, the Associated Press reported. The Al Sumaria report said the man’s name is Randy Michael Hill, 59, a retired member of the U.S. military.

At the press conference the man gave few details of what he described as a “kidnapping,” or how he was treated while captured, according to AP. The man was taken into the Green Zone and turned over to the UN mission immediately after the press conference, AP said.

The kidnappers, the man said during the press conference, were from the Promised Day Brigade, a branch of the Mahdi Army, a militia that is controlled by al-Sadr, according to the AP.

The Al Sumaria report, citing al-Douri, said the man was freed after the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq “to give a message about Iraq’s good intentions and to say that Iraq restored its sovereignty.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Nick Taborek in Washington at ntaborek@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Ann Hughey at ahughey@bloomberg.net

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