The murky abduction account of an American, who nobody appeared to know was missing in Iraq until he resurfaced, is raising questions about everything from his name to the circumstances surrounding his reported kidnapping.
A Shiite militia loyal to radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr announced Saturday in a bizarre, pre-taped news conference that it was releasing U.S. soldier Randy Michaels, who one Sadrist lawmaker said was captured in battle nine months earlier.
The man did not identify himself, though he said he was a former soldier who was working as a civilian when he was abducted.
But U.S. officials say all missing soldiers have been accounted for and no civilian was recently reported missing, and even the man's ex-wife said she didn't know he had been kidnapped.
On Sunday, adding to the mystery, the U.S. Embassy declined to identify the American or discuss details surrounding the reported abduction.
"We cannot disclose any further information at this moment regarding this case because of privacy practices," embassy spokesman Michael McClellan said.
But a U.S. official who had knowledge of the man and had seen the video told CNN he was Rand Michael Hultz, a former Army soldier who served in Iraq shortly after the 2003 invasion and later returned as an "entrepreneur."
The account by the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the nature of the case, is supported by interviews the man gave to an Iraqi television stations in 2010 where he identified himself as Hultz and detailed his business ventures.FULL STORY