Two Americans imprisoned by Iraq since they had strayed across the Kuwaiti border in March were freed Sunday, the White House announced.
William Barloon and David Daliberti were released to the custody of Rep. Bill Richardson, D-N.M., in Baghdad after having been pardoned by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
The two men celebrated their release with pizza and champagne at the Polish Embassy in Baghdad.
“I am happy to be reunited with my family,” Barloon said later in anticipation of his return home. Daliberti said only that it was a “great day.”
The release followed weeks of behind-the-scenes efforts by Richardson. The two Americans, who had been sentenced to eight years in prison for illegally entering Iraq, are expected to leave Iraq today.
Barloon, 39, of New Hampton, Iowa, and Daliberti, 41, of Jacksonville, Fla., drove into Iraq by mistake in March.