BBC News – 2008-05-16 18:57:05
LONDON (May 16, 2008) — Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey has made a direct appeal for the freedom of five British hostages who were abducted in Iraq last year. In a video, released through the Times newspaper, he addressed the kidnappers as “honourable men” and “men of faith”.
The four guards and a computer expert were seized in Baghdad on 29 May. Whitehall sources told the BBC Lord Carey, who made a similar appeal last year, did not speak for the government and it preferred discreet negotiation.
The former Archbishop, speaking in English and Arabic, recorded his appeal on Friday at the House of Lords, accompanied by Canon Andrew White, his former Middle East envoy and now Anglican chaplain to Iraq, the Times said.
“I greet you as honourable men. I greet you as men of faith. I believe, as you do, that faith is important in this broken world,” Lord Carey said.
“I appeal to you, as good people, to release these men who long to be back home once more.”
Canon White told the captors Iraq was one of the “greatest nations” in the world and that the hostages had been helping with reconstruction work in the country when they were taken.
Lord Carey made a similar appeal to the kidnappers in December when he also read a plea from the hostages’ families in which they said: “We love you and miss you very much and want you to know that you are never out of our thoughts.”
The men were seized by gunmen at Baghdad’s foreign ministry.
In a videotape dated 18 November last year, the kidnappers warned they would kill one of the men as a “first warning” unless UK forces left Iraq within 10 days.
One of the hostages has been identified as Peter Moore, originally from Lincoln, who was working as a computer consultant. The identities of the four other men have not been confirmed.
The case has not featured in the media as much as other kidnappings in Iraq – including those of Ken Bigley and Margaret Hassan – because of a Foreign Office request for minimal coverage.
A Foreign Office spokeswoman said the government was doing everything it could “to secure the safe release of the hostages”.
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The families of the “Arbil Five,” Iranian officials who were kidnapped by American forces in a US raid on an Iranian consular office in Arbil, Iraq are speaking about their capture. On November 9, 2007 the United States released two of the detainees after 305 days. The others remain “disappeared.” Their detention violates international law and common human decency. Critics contrast the US treatment with Iran’s treatment of British sailors detained after violating Iran’s territorial waters.