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Three contractors freed in Iraq

By the CNN Wire Staff
December 28, 2011 -- Updated 1503 GMT (2303 HKT)
U.S. Rep. Peter King said he wrote to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to appeal for the release of the security contractors.
U.S. Rep. Peter King said he wrote to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to appeal for the release of the security contractors.
  • NEW: Rep. Peter King got involved after the wife of one of the men appealed for help
  • The three contractors were detained in central Iraq on December 9
  • Two of them are U.S. citizens and military veterans, the third is from Fiji

Baghdad (CNN) -- Three security contractors, two of them American veterans and one from Fiji, have been freed in Iraq almost three weeks after they were detained by the Iraqi Army, U.S. Rep. Peter King said Wednesday.

The men, who were working for a security firm, were arrested by Iraqi Army forces in Mahmudiyah on December 9 but were not charged with any offense, said King, a New York Republican.

"I am pleased that these three men have been released after having been detained," King said. "With the unfortunate and clearly deteriorating security situation in Iraq and with al Qaeda in Iraq still very active, these men were in increasing danger with each passing day."

King said he got involved after being contacted by the wife of one of the men, Army veteran Alex Antiohos of Long Island, New York.

The other two contractors are Jonas March of Savannah, Georgia, and Kevin Fisher of Fiji, he said.

Iraq after the withdrawal

The congressman asked the U.S. State Department for help and wrote to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to appeal for their release, he said in a statement.

King said the three men were detained because the Iraqi military "did not like the 'mission request authorization' paperwork that had been issued by the Iraqi Ministry of Interior."

The United States is still negotiating with the Iraqi government about whether U.S. contractors will be granted any diplomatic protections under Iraqi law. The final U.S. troops withdrew from Iraq 10 days ago, after a war that lasted almost nine years.

CNN's Adam Levine contributed to this report.

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