Princeton doctoral student still alive after being kidnapped by Iran-backed militia, Israel says
Tsurkov is "absolutely not a member of Mossad, period, exclamation point, underline," a senior Israeli official said.
A Princeton doctoral student and Israeli-Russian citizen is still alive after she was kidnapped by Iran-backed militia Kataib Hezbollah while she was pursuing academic research in Iraq, Israel said.
The student, Elizabeth Tsurkov, disappeared in late March, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said Wednesday that they "see Iraq as responsible for her fate and safety."
She visited Iraq using her Russian passport because Iraq has never had formal diplomatic relations with Israel.
Tsurkov described herself as on Twitter as "[p]assionate about human rights." She is a fellow at the New Lines Institute foreign policy think tank where she focuses on the Middle East.
She had left a Baghdad cafe in a middle-class neighborhood when members of the militia kidnapped her, her family and people with knowledge of the situation told The New York Times.
Tsurkov is "absolutely not a member of Mossad, period, exclamation point, underline," a senior Israeli official said at a briefing, countering claims from Arab media that she was part of the intelligence agency.
"She is an innocent Israeli citizen doing doctoral work in Princeton," the official also said. "There is no connection between Israeli officials and Elizabeth."
Kataib Hezbollah was designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department in 2009.
Princeton on Wednesday said, "Elizabeth is a valued member of the Princeton University community. We are deeply concerned for her safety and wellbeing, and we are eager for her to be able to rejoin her family and resume her studies."