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Brother: Captors have released Marine


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Brother: Marine Cpl. Wassef Hassoun is "alive" and and has been "released."

A Hassoun family spokesman reacts to conflicting reports.

The brother of Cpl. Wassef Hassoun is confident he has been freed.
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Wassef Hassoun
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TRIPOLI, Lebanon (CNN) -- The brother of an American Marine who had been taken hostage in Iraq asserted Tuesday that his brother, Cpl. Wassef Hassoun, has been freed.

Sami Hassoun, speaking to CNN from Tripoli, Lebanon, said there is clear "sign" that his brother is "alive" and has been "released."

"We are happy that he is alive," said Sami Hassoun, whose brother is a 24-year-old Marine translator of Lebanese descent.

The Pentagon took the unusual step of posting a notice on its Web site about reports that the Marine had been released. The statement on http://www.defenselink.mil/ said, "At this time, the Department of Defense cannot confirm the reported release of U.S. Marine Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun."

Sami Hassoun would not elaborate on where he got his information or the sign.

He said earlier reports that his brother was beheaded in an execution was a shock, and the family gave each other comfort and prayed.

"As soon as the first tape aired on [Arabic-language network] Al-Jazeera TV, we were shocked," Sami Hassoun said. "It was like a never-ending nightmare.

"He's alive and he's released and thank God for that. The sign came to us, we are sure of it."

Monday, a group claiming to have kidnapped Wassef Hassoun said it had taken him to safety after he promised not to return to the American military, Al-Jazeera reported.

The group -- which calls itself "Islamic Response," the security wing of the Islamic Resistance of Iraq -- faxed a statement to the network, saying Hassoun "has been sent to a safe place after he had announced his forgiveness and his determination not to go back to the U.S. forces."

Al-Jazeera broadcast a videotape June 27 showing Hassoun blindfolded, a sword over his head. A narrator on the tape said the captive would be killed if the United States did not free jailed Iraqis.

Hassoun was trained as a truck driver, but worked as an Arabic translator. He was last seen June 19 and was reported missing when he failed to report for duty the next day.


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