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US did not know freed hostage was missing

AMERICAN diplomats are scrambling to piece together the story of a former soldier who was handed over to them at the weekend after nine months in captivity in Iraq -- but who no one seemed to know had been kidnapped.

Rand Michael Hultz appeared to have returned to Baghdad after his tour of duty and tried to set himself up as a businessman and entrepreneur in what he called an "emerging market". But a trail of breadcrumbs left by him across the internet and in the Iraqi media has left investigators with more questions than answers.

Mr Hultz was handed over first to UN officials and then to the US embassy. A paramilitary group loyal to the Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr said it was handing him back as a gesture of goodwill following the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. (©Independent News Service)

Irish Independent