August 25, 2004

Cornellian Kidnapped in Iraq Returns Home

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Micah Garen ’94, the U.S. journalist kidnapped in Iraq, was released on Sunday. According to The Associated Press, Garen was held for nine days as a hostage by the Martyrs Brigade, a militant group, under the condition that U.S. troops leave Najaf.

Garen worked in Iraq for Four Corners Media. His current work included a documentary about looting of archeological sites. Incidentally, Garen and his translator, Amir Doushi, were kidnapped on Aug. 13 in Nasiriyah after a misunderstanding about photographs he was taking.

Garen credited representatives from the Muqtada Al-Sadr cleric for his and Doushi’s safe release.

Garen’s family and Cornell had been instructed to remain cautious in their statements during his kidnap to avoid aggravating the situation.

“We had been working very closely with the Cornell office because of the family’s concern that any information beyond what they’d been counseled by the FBI to give would pose an additional danger before he was released,” said Kathryn Gleason, chair of landscape architecture.

Garen’s release has been received with relief at Cornell.

“[This is] the release of a remarkable journalist … we’re just very happy that he has the opportunity to complete his really extraordinary work in Iraq,” added Gleason, who was familiar with Garen’s work, although she did not know him during his time at Cornell.

Garen graduated in 1994 with a B.S. in general studies from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. According to Prof. Peter Trowbridge, landscape architecture, Garen’s interests spanned many different disciplines and he explored courses in several of Cornell’s undergraduate colleges.

“Micah was always interested in archeology, history and issues of cultural landscape. I believe at least from the news that what he was engaged in Iraq is photo documentation of historic sites and artifacts so his work in Iraq is very consistent with his interests as a Cornell student,” Trowbridge said.

Despite Garen’s recent kidnapping, he has not been discouraged from continuing his work in Iraq. In an interview with The Associated Press Television News hours after his release, Garen said, “This experience hasn’t made me want to leave at all.”

Archived article by Diana Lo
Sun News Editor