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Missing Journalists O.K.

Missing Journalists O.K.

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MELVILLE, N.Y. (AP) -- Two Newsday journalists and two freelance photographers who were missing for more than a week in Iraq sent word Tuesday that that were safe and had left the country. A sister of one of the journalists said he told her that they had been imprisoned but were treated well.

"We're just euphoric," Newsday publisher and chief executive Raymond Jansen said in a statement on the newspaper's Web site. The two Newsday staffers told their colleagues they were crossing into Jordan. The two freelancers were with them.

Newsday correspondent Matthew McAllester, 33, and photographer Moises Saman, 29, had been out of contact since March 24, when they e-mailed the Long Island-based newspaper from Baghdad to say they would be filing material.

The journalists used a satellite phone to call their loved ones. McAllester called his sister, Janey, in London, where she works at an art gallery.

"I just shrieked at him, because he was alive. I couldn't stop crying. It was the best news we could wish for," the sister said.

"He said they had been held in prison, but they had been treated OK. I asked him if he was held by people from Iraq's Ministry of Information and he just said: `That's a nice name for them."'

In Louisville, Molly Bingham, 34, a freelance photographer who also had been missing in Baghdad, called her family Tuesday to report that she, too, was safely out of Iraq.

"Everybody is greatly relieved. A tremendous amount of stress is gone," said Stan MacDonald, a Bingham family spokesman. "It's joyful."

Leaving the country with them was a Danish freelance photographer, Johan Rydeng Spanner, according to Abi Wright, a spokeswoman for the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Cheers broke out in the Newsday newsroon as Foreign Editor Dele Olejede took the call from the two.

Newsday did not immediately say where they had been. "It will take us a while to get the details, but we want them to enjoy their freedom and get a good night's sleep," Jansen said.

MacDonald said he thought Bingham "had a rough week, but I can't give you any particulars about that."

Newsday editor Anthony Marro had said in his paper's Saturday editions that he believed the two staffers were detained by the Iraqi government.

Bingham, the daughter of Barry Bingham Jr., former publisher of The Courier-Journal in Louisville, spent 21/2 years as then-Vice President Al Gore's documentary photographer for the National Archives. She also has recorded the plight of beleaguered people and places in Afghanistan, the Gaza Strip, Burundi, Sudan and Iran.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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