Missing Israeli-Russian academic being held by militia in Iraq: Israeli PM’s Office
An Israeli-Russian academic, identified as Elizabeth Tsurkov, who had been missing in the Republic of Iraq for months is being held by the pro-Iran armed faction Shiite group, Kataeb Hezbollah, according to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office.
On Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said, “Elizabeth Tsurkov is still alive and we hold Iraq responsible for her safety and well-being.” Netanyahu’s office claimed that the woman visited Iraq for research purposes on behalf of Princeton University, a private Ivy League research university in Princeton, New Jersey, United States. She reportedly visited Iraq on her Russian passport.
According to an Iraqi intelligence source, the Israeli-Russian academic was kidnapped in Baghdad, the capital of Iraq, “at the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan.”
Reportedly, Elizabeth Tsurkov arrived in Baghdad in December 2022. On March 21, she posted an article on Twitter she had written for New Lines Institute, a nonprofit and non-partisan think tank in Washington D.C. It was her last tweet. Ramadan started on March 23 this year.
Elizabeth Tsurkov was conducting fieldwork for her PhD at Princeton, focusing on pro-Iran factions and the movement of Iraqi Shiite leader Moqtada Sadr as part of her research. The Iraqi intelligence source said that she was kidnapped when she was leaving a cafe in the Karrada neighborhood, a district of the city of Baghdad.
Reportedly, a member of a pro-Iran Iraq group kidnapped Elizabeth from the cafe. In April, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that they did not get information on the whereabouts of Elizabeth Tsurkov.
Her mother Irena said that they lost contact two months ago. Michael Hotchkiss, the assistant vice president for communications at Princeton University, said, “Elizabeth is a valued member of the Princeton University community. We are deeply concerned for her safety and wellbeing.”