Hella Mewis, the German curator who was kidnapped in Baghdad, has been freed.

Daria Simone Harper
Jul 21, 2020 4:43PM, via The Art Newspaper

German curator Hella Mewis. Image via Twitter.

The German curator Hella Mewis was freed by Iraqi security forces three days after her kidnapping in Baghdad. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas confirmed the news in a statement. There remains no clear motive for Mewis’s abduction.

Mewis was kidnapped on the evening of July 21st by a group of unknown armed men in Baghdad. Citing local activists, German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) reported that Mewis was approached by two vehicles as she was leaving her office in the city center. Mewis was on her bicycle when the attackers reportedly seized her.

Mewis, a Berlin native, has been based in Baghdad since 2012 and has dedicated her career to elevating and supporting emerging artists in Iraq. She helped found the independent artists’s collective Tarkib and is associated with the cultural institution Bait Tarkib. Mewis has also worked for the Goethe Institute.

Today, German foreign minister Heiko Maas addressed the incident at a press conference in Athens and noted that his ministry’s crisis unit has been initiated. In a statement quoted by The Art Newspaper, he said:

We won't make any public comment about it due to concern about the wellbeing of the victim. We have begun in the ministry to address the case and seek a solution which will secure the victim and their wellbeing.

Update: July 24th, 2020

Hella Mewis was freed by Iraqi security forces on the morning of Friday, July 24th. This article has been revised to reflect this new information.

Daria Simone Harper
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