Russia responsible for missing Radio Liberty journalist, says Albright
WASHINGTON, Feb 5, 2000 -- (AFP) US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on Friday said the United States held Russia responsible for the safety of a detained Radio Liberty journalist, who Moscow says was swapped with Chechen rebels for three captured Russian soldiers.
"If such a trade has taken place it's obviously not acceptable and we hold the Russians responsible for his well-being," Albright told reporters at a joint news conference with visiting Spanish Foreign Minister Abel Juan Matutes.
She stressed, however, that there was no confirmation of reports of the swap but said she had raised the issue of journalist Andrei Babitsky earlier this week during meetings with Russian officials in Moscow.
"I raised this issue and expressed my concerns to the Russian government," said Albright. "We are concerned about his welfare."
Russian officials said Thursday that Babitsky, who had been detained in January while covering the war in Chechnya, had been exchanged with the rebels with his approval.
However, Chechen commanders have denied knowing where the 35-year-old reporter is and Babitsky's family has expressed fears for his life.
Babitsky, a Russian, works for Radio Liberty, which is funded by the US Congress.