(BAGHDAD) — In a move that seemed to take everyone by surprise, a Shiite militia in Iraq freed a former U.S. soldier-turned-contractor over the weekend after he had been held for nine months in captivity.
The man was identified as Randy Michael Hultz, who was apparently the prisoner of the Promised Day Brigade, a Shiite militant group loyal to the radical cleric Muqtada al Sadr and which at one time was one of the most violent foes of the U.S. military in Iraq.
During an unexpected and seemingly spontaneous press conference outside the fortified Green Zone in Baghdad, Hultz, who was wearing an Army uniform and standing alongside Iraqi officials, claimed he was abducted by the Promised Day Brigade last June.
Without going into specific details, Hultz said his captors told him his release “is a gift to me, my family and to the American people who oppose the war.”
Hultz was then brought inside the Green Zone, where he was turned over to the United Nations before being brought to the U.S. Embassy in order to verify his identity.
There are records that indicate Hultz began serving in Iraq in 2003, quit the military in 2005 and began working in a civilian capacity.
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Vanessa Yurkevich, CNN
David Williams, CNN
Roshni Majumdar and Deborah Bloom, CNN Newswire
Rafael Romo and Patrick Gillespie, CNN