CNN Balkan Conflict News

Bosnian Serbs free American journalist

David Rhode

November 8, 1995
Web posted at: 9:30 p.m. EST (0230 GMT)

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (CNN) -- Bosnian Serbs on Wednesday released an American journalist they had held for two weeks for alleged espionage.

David Rohde, a 28-year-old reporter for the Christian Science Monitor, had been detained since October 29. He was released to the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade in what Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic called a "sign of good will and a contribution to the peace talks."

A statement from the Bosnian Serb press bureau accused Rohde of gathering military intelligence for the Muslims and an unnamed Western country. Karadzic said Wednesday Rohde had been cleared of all espionage charges.

Before his disappearance, Rohde told his editors he planned to investigate alleged atrocities by Bosnian Serbs in Srebrenica. He had written previous articles on the subject.

"I feel very relieved and very happy to be out, and I'm grateful to the Serbian security corps for getting me out."

-- David Rohde

"Now that David is safe, we want to state unequivocally that he was on a journalistic assignment for the Monitor," said David Cook, editor of the Christian Science Monitor. "Claims that he was engaged in espionage are totally false."

Rohde did not address the charges, but said by phone, "I feel very relieved and very happy to be out, and I'm grateful to the Serbian security corps for getting me out."

A U.N. source in Sarajevo said Rohde's release was the result of strong U.S. pressure and discussions between U.S. and Bosnian Serb representatives earlier this week. One of Rohde's editors had traveled to Dayton, Ohio, to lobby Bosnian peace negotiators for Rohde's release.

State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns said the United States was "very pleased and relieved" that Rohde had been freed.

He called the incident "an outrageous example of dictatorial rule" by the Bosnian Serbs, but thanked Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic for his help in securing Rohde's release.

Burns said President Clinton and Secretary of State Warren Christopher spoke to Rohde after his release. Burns said Rohde told them he was well, but had been deprived of sleep one night while being interrogated by his Bosnian Serb captors.

Rohde also told Clinton and Christopher he "hoped he hadn't screwed up the Dayton talks."

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