• Simon Upton
Foreign Affairs and Trade

Acting Foreign Minister Simon Upton today welcomed news that New Zealand hostage Geraldo Cruz had been rescued from kidnappers in Chechnya.

Mr Cruz was freed by Russian security forces early on Tuesday morning (Russian time), after two months in captivity. He was taken hostage on May 15 while working for the International Red Cross in the southern Russian republic of Kabardino-Balkaria, close to the breakaway republic of Chechnya.

"Mr Cruz's rescue after two months in captivity is terrific news and will have come as a massive relief for his family, friends and colleagues," Mr Upton said.

"Details of the rescue remain unclear at this point, but the New Zealand Government certainly appreciates the considerable efforts that Russian authorities put in to securing Mr Cruz's safe release."

Mr Upton said staff from the New Zealand Embassy in Moscow had been able to meet with Mr Cruz a few hours after his release, and reported that he was in reasonably good health, considering his two-month ordeal, and visibly relieved to be free.

The Minister said Mr Cruz had been flown to Geneva, where the International Red Cross is based, to spend some time recuperating and under-going medical checks before returning to New Zealand.