Officials say the U.S. military has released a member of an Iraqi Shi'ite militant group that recently claimed to have reached a deal to release British hostages in exchange for U.S.-held detainees.
British officials say Laith al-Khazali was released several days ago. He had been detained since 2007 after being linked to an attack that killed five U.S. soldiers.
His group, League of the Righteous, is believed to be holding five British hostages kidnapped in 2007.
The group claimed in March that it had reached a deal with Britain and the United States to free at least one hostage in exchange for several detainees held by U.S. forces.
British officials deny the claim, and say Khazali's release is part of the Iraqi government's efforts to reconcile with groups that have agreed to renounce violence.
The hostages include a British computer consultant, Peter Moore, and his four bodyguards, who were kidnapped from the Iraqi Finance Ministry in Baghdad.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.