Kidnapped Irish Priest Freed in Philippines

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A 79-year-old Irish priest has been set free in the Philippines after being held captive by Muslim rebels for a month.

According to Irish foreign affairs minister Michael Martin, the captors did not receive the ransom money they wanted.

"As in previous kidnaps, no ransom was paid by the Irish government," Martin said. "To do so would only have jeopardized the vital work of aid workers and missionaries around the world - it would also place other Irish citizens in danger."

"The release of Fr Michael represents the successful conclusion of a major diplomatic effort by the Irish and Philippine governments," he said.

Rev. Michael Sinnott says he was forced to hike through jungles, pass through raging seas and sleep in a swamp.

Officials had feared the elderly priest would suffer a fatal heart attack because he had quadruple bypass heart surgery four years ago.

A friend and fellow priest called it "a minor miracle" that Sinnott survived.

Sinnott told reporters, "I think that they'd be glad to kidnap a younger man next time."

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