Sister of Israeli kidnapped in Baghdad lambasts Iraqi PM: ‘You aren’t doing anything to save her’

Elizabeth Tsurkov in an undated photo (social media; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Elizabeth Tsurkov in an undated photo (social media; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

The sister of Russian-Israeli researcher Elizabeth Tsurkov, who was abducted last year in Baghdad and has been held in captivity since, lambasts Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia’ Al Sudani at an event in the United States, saying he is not doing enough to secure her release.

“She’s held hostage in your country,” says Emma Tsurkov during the Atlantic Council event in Washington DC.

“You are not doing anything to save her. And you can’t, because they are your government’s partners. They are Iraqi government employees and you should be ashamed of yourself that you’re not doing anything to help her and save her,” says Tsurkov. “She’s innocent and you know it.”

Tsurkov has long said Sudani has the power to secure her sister’s release, but has chosen not to act.

A Princeton doctoral student, Elizabeth Tsurkov went missing in late March of last year while doing research for her PhD dissertation on Shiite movements in Iraq. She likely used her Russian passport to enter the country, as Israel and Iraq do not have diplomatic relations.

After conducting an investigation into her quiet disappearance, Israeli authorities revealed in July that Tsurkov had been kidnapped, implicating the Iran-backed armed militia Kataeb Hezbollah in her abduction.

The Prime Minister’s Office announced in a statement following the investigation that it “views Iraq as responsible for her fate and safety” and emphasized that Tsurkov traveled to Baghdad on her own initiative. Under Israeli law, it is illegal for Israeli citizens to enter enemy countries, even on a foreign passport.

The Iraqi government said it began an investigation soon after Israeli officials went public with Tsurkov’s kidnapping.

In November, an Iraqi satellite TV network aired footage of Tsurkov, seemingly under duress, in which she asked in Hebrew for her release and “admitted” to being a Western spy.

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