NEWS

Taliban frees aid worker

Athanassios Lerounis, a Greek aid worker taken hostage by Afghan Taliban militants in northern Pakistan seven months ago, has been released, Pakistani government officials and Greek diplomats said yesterday. «He is here. He looks fine. He is healthy,» Rehmatullah Wazir told reporters in Pakistan early yesterday. The Pakistani government official said that no ransom had been paid to the kidnappers. «We were able to secure his release by negotiations and… pressure,» Wazir said. Greece’s ambassador in Islamabad, Petros Mavroidis, confirmed later in the day that Lerounis had been freed. «We spoke with him and he is in the hands of competent agencies and they will bring him to the embassy in Islamabad today or tomorrow,» Mavroidis said. Lerounis, who had been involved in a voluntary cultural project in Pakistan’s northern Chitral region since 2001, was kidnapped last September near the border with Afghanistan.