German curator kidnapped in Iraq is free again

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas voices “relief” at release of Hella Mewis, an arts manager living in Baghdad who works to promote young Iraqi artists

The German curator Hella Mewis Image: #freedom_for_hella/Twitter

Hella Mewis, a German curator and arts manager who was kidnapped on Monday by unidentified armed men in Baghdad, has been freed this morning, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said. He thanked the Iraqi government and security forces for “giving us comprehensive support and making a decisive contribution to this good conclusion.”

Mewis was abducted as she was leaving her office in the centre of the city on her bicycle. Two vehicles approached and the assailants seized her from a car, according to media reports. After she was freed, Iraqi authorities handed her over to the German Embassy where she is now safe, Maas said. He gave no details about how she was liberated. Diplomatic sources said she is in good health.

A Berliner who has lived in Baghdad since 2012, Mewis was involved in the founding of Tarkib, an independent artists’ group, and has cooperated with the Goethe Institute. She works with Bait Tarkib, a culture institution that aims to promote and foster emerging Iraqi artists. Among the stated goals on its website is to “provide Baghdadi youth and women with a safe haven to express their ideas through exhibitions, public performances, trainings and workshops.”