NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Three security contractors, including one from Long Island, have been released from the custody of the Iraqi army.
Army veteran Alex Antiohos of West Babylon, National Guardsman Jonas March of Savannah, Georgia and Kevin Fisher of Fiji were not charged with a crime but had been held for more than two weeks after Iraqi Ministry of Defense officials rejected paperwork prepared on their behalf by the Iraqi Ministry of Interior.
Long Island Congressman Peter King helped get the men released and is calling for an investigation.
“It was absolutely disgraceful that they were held. They were fully complying with the law, they had all the working papers they needed,” King told 1010 WINS. “The arrests by the Iraqi government is indefensible.”
There was no contact between the contractors and the American government, according to King, and the Iraqi government never put out a statement on the incident.
Antiohos’ wife contacted King last week. The men were released after efforts by his office, the State Department, the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, the Defense Department and the White House.
“The good news is, the men are home free, they’re with their families for the new year,” King said.
The chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security said he is worried that what happened to the contractors could become a common occurrence with Americans in Iraq.
If this behavior continues, King fears it could put a strain on the U.S. ties to the country.
“This is unusual and it’s troubling,” King said. “Iraq should be an ally of ours. These men were working in the country legally; we have thousands of other contractors in Iraq. If this is what’s going to be happening over the next several months and years then it’s going to be a very difficult relationship between the U.S. and Iraq.”
U.S. troops completed a full withdrawal from Iraq this month after nearly nine years of war.