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Japanese journalist freed from Iraqi-Kurdish custody

Kosuke Tsuneoka was arrested close to the besieged city of Mosul [Getty]

Date of publication: 7 November, 2016

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A Japanese reporter covering the Mosul offensive has been released, after his detention by Kurdish authorities over his contacts with IS militants.

Iraqi Kurdistan authorities have handed over a Japanese journalist who was detained over his links with Islamic State group militants.

Kosuke Tsuneoka was arrested near Mosul in October by Kurdish counter-terrorism units.

The Kurdistan Region Security Council - a body set up by the Iraqi Kurdistan government for security of the territories - confirmed he had been released.

"On 19 October 2016 a Japanese national, Mr. Kosuke Tsuneoka, also known by the nom de guerre Shamil K. Tsuneoka, was detained... for links to the Islamic State," a statement from the Kurdistan Region Security Council (KRSC) said.

It said the Japanese man was detained near Mount Zardak, a strategic hill east of the city of Mosul.

Forty-seven year-old Tsuneoka is a veteran Japanese journalist with contacts with militants in IS, who was detained while covering the joint Kurdish and Iraqi army offensive against the group in Mosul.

The northern city is the jihadis' last major stronghold in Iraq and has been under attack for the past two weeks.

Tsuneoka's work on covering the offensive and contacts with IS members led to his arrest.

"An investigation by our Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) found he was in contact with [IS] members through his smartphone," the statement said, using another acronym for IS.

"Our security services remained in dialogue with Japanese authorities throughout his detention about the potential charges against him. It was decided to hand over Mr. Tsuneoka to Japanese authorities," it said.

He left Iraq on Monday via Erbil airport, the capital of the Iraq's Kurdish region, on Monday, the source told AFP.

Agencies contributed to this story.

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