Iraq forces free German woman kidnapped in Baghdad

Dhikra Sarsam speaks during a press conference in Baghdad on July 21, 2020, demanding the release of her German friend Hella Mewis who was kidnapped the previous day. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 24 July 2020

Iraq forces free German woman kidnapped in Baghdad

  • There were no details on the timing of the operation
  • Officials are still investigating the crime

BAGHDAD: A German woman kidnapped in Baghdad earlier this week was freed overnight, Iraqi officials said on Friday, without providing additional details.
“Security forces have freed activist Hella Mewis,” Iraq’s military spokesman Yahya Rasool said in a statement.
There were no details on the timing of the operation, the force that carried it out or who had kidnapped Mewis.
A spokesman for Iraq’s Supreme Judicial Council, Abdelsattar Bayraqdar, said the operation had been backed by a Baghdad investigative court.
“We are still investigating this crime,” he said.
Mewis, who ran arts programs at Iraqi collective Tarkib, was kidnapped late on Monday as she was leaving her office.
“She was riding her bicycle when two cars, one of them a white pickup truck (of the type) used by some security forces, were seen kidnapping her,” a security source told AFP.
Police officers at the local station witnessed the abduction but did not intervene, the source added.
Mewis’s phone was still unreachable on Friday and her friends had not heard from her.
The German embassy in Baghdad had no immediate comment.
A friend of Mewis told AFP she had been worried following the killing of Hisham Al-Hashemi, an Iraqi scholar who had been supportive of anti-government protests last year.
“I spoke to her (Mewis) last week and she was really involved in the protests too, so she was nervous after the assassination,” said the friend, Dhikra Sarsam.
Large demonstrations erupted in Baghdad and Iraq’s Shiite-majority south last year, railing against a government seen as corrupt, inept and beholden to Iran.
Around 550 people died in protest-related violence, including two dozen activists who were shot dead by unidentified men, usually on motorcycles.
Dozens more were kidnapped, some of whom were later released near their homes. The whereabouts of others remain unknown.
Amnesty International has slammed the incidents as “a growing lethal campaign of harassment, intimidation, abductions and deliberate killings of activists and protesters.”
This year has seen a worrying spike in abductions of foreigners, who had not been targeted in several years.
On New Year’s Eve, two French freelance journalists were taken hostage for 36 hours and three French NGO workers were held for two months.
In both cases, neither the kidnappers nor the conditions of their releases were revealed.


Dubai airport hands out roses to Beirut passengers in a show of support

Updated 8 sec ago

Dubai airport hands out roses to Beirut passengers in a show of support

  • Passengers arriving from Beirut in Dubai were handed white roses
  • “Rebuilding Lebanon is like rebuilding UAE,” a message attached to the roses read

DUBAI: Passengers arriving from Beirut in Dubai were handed white roses on Sunday in a heartfelt gesture of support following last week’s deadly blast. 
The 163 passengers boarding an Emirates airline flight who arrived at Dubai International Airport were gifted the roses from Dubai Customs workers. The flowers came with a message that quoted the founder of the UAE, the late President Sheikh Zayed Al-Nahyan.
The message reads: “Rebuilding Lebanon is like rebuilding UAE.”
Dubai Airport CEO Paul Griffiths said the act reflects the “spirit of kindness at the heart of the aviation community.”  
“I’m sure it has provided some measure of comfort for the Lebanese passengers during these very difficult times,” he said.
Like many other countries, the UAE has sent large shipments of aid to Lebanon since the explosion. 
The massive blasts at the Beirut port killed 158 people and injured 6,000.