The U.S. embassy in Baghdad was informed an American businessman had gone missing in the same month the businessman said he was kidnapped by Iraqi militia, the State Department spokeswoman said. The revelation is the latest twist in the case of Randy Hultz who was freed by militia loyal to Muqtada al-Sadr this weekend but nobody seemed to know he had been abducted.
On Monday, the State Department's Victoria Nuland said there was an attempt to find Hultz when he went missing last June, but after a search the U.S. embassy assumed he had left the country and stopped the inquiry.
Here is what Victoria Nuland said at Monday's State Department briefing:
NULAND: Well, I agree. We were all a little bit confused over
the weekend, in part because in coming back to Iraq, he had not chosen
as a private American in country to register with the embassy. So,
frankly, we didn't have any information about his whereabouts, et
I will tell you that we did receive an e-mail around June of 2011
from an Iraqi acquaintance of Mr. Hultz, saying that he had not heard
from this guy for several days, and the Iraqi indicated in that e-mail
that he was of the impression that Mr. Hultz was planning to leave
Iraq in the near future. So this was in June, and that was the first
that we had ever heard about him.
And at that point, we looked into it, we were able to figure out
the hotel where the Iraqi had thought he had been staying and living.
We consulted with the hotel, with Iraqi authorities in the weeks that
followed, and we weren't able to find any trace of him.
So at that point, we assumed, I think, that he had left the
country, he had not chosen to contact us. So that was our only
information about him one way or the other until he showed up at the
QUESTION: And that Iraqi friend never got back to you and said,
by the way, he's kidnapped?
NULAND: No. No. And we were never contacted by any family
members in the United States, either. Yeah. I agree with you,