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Sunday, January 13, 2008

Godbold to be Released Soon

N'DJAMENA, Jan 13 (Reuters) - Rebels in northern Chad are expected to release shortly a U.S. missionary they seized in October on the suspicion he was a Chadian government spy, a member of the organisation he worked for said on Sunday.

Cash Steven Godbold, a member of the Christian organisation The Evangelical Alliance Mission (TEAM), was kidnapped on Oct. 11 in the northern Tibesti mountains near the Libyan border by the rebel Movement for Democracy and Justice in Chad (MDJT).

At the time of his seizure, Godbold was working on a humanitarian assistance project drilling water wells in the Zoumri region, funded by the U.S. Department of Defense.

The MDJT, which was formed in 1998, issued statements last week saying its inquiries showed Godbold was not working for the Chadian government as it had originally suspected.

"We expect him to be released shortly ... hopefully in a week," the Reverend Carl Hodges of the TEAM organisation in Chad told Reuters by telephone.

At the request of the MDJT, another humanitarian organisation working in Chad was helping to arrange the release of the kidnapped missionary, Hodges said, adding that this organisation had asked that its name not be released.

"I myself talked to him (Godbold) on December 28. I was able to confirm that he was fine -- the only thing he wanted was his liberty," Hodges said.

He said the MDJT, which in 1998 launched an armed insurgency in Chad's north under the leadership of President Idriss Deby's former defence chief, Youssouf Togoimi, had made no demands.

(Reporting by Pascal Fletcher; editing by Philippa Fletcher)

The Rest @ Reuters Alertnet

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