Thursday, December 08, 2005

Ex Guantanamo bay inmates make hostage plea

Britain's former Guantanamo detainees call for the release of Norman Kember and three other hostages held in Iraq. Moazzam Begg told the BBC's Newsnight he and his fellow former inmates had been reminded of their ordeal by seeing the 74-year-old Briton in a jumpsuit.

Mr Begg said: "When we were first granted release by Allah's mercy we came home to find that there were people who opposed the government in their brutal war waged against Afghanistan and Iraq and stood on the side of justice, and they were not Muslims."

"It is our sincerest belief that Norman Kember, the 74-year-old Briton and those with him are amongst those people, the many people who opposed this war from the beginning and were only in Iraq to promote human rights for the oppressed.

Moazzam Begg was detained for nearly three years

"Just like Sheikh Abu Qatada we also hope that our words may encourage you to show mercy to these men and let them free."

Mr Kember, along with Mr Fox, 54, and Canadians James Loney, 41, and Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32, had travelled to Iraq as a "gesture of solidarity" with Canada-based international peace group Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT)

Their captors have accused the men of being spies, a charge their employers deny.

The latest video shows Mr Kember and Mr Fox dressed in orange jump suits with their hands shackled and wearing blindfolds, echoing film of British kidnap victim Ken Bigley who was shown wearing similar clothes before his murder.

Mr Kember is shown telling the camera he is "a friend of Iraq".

"I have been opposed to this war, Mr Blair's war, since the very beginning but I ask him now, and the British government, to do all that they can to work for my release and the release of the Iraqi people from oppression," Mr Kember says.

On Thursday, a radical cleric detained in the UK made an appeal for the hostages' release.

In a video filmed in prison, Abu Qatada urged the kidnappers to free them "in line with the principle of mercy of our religion".

source : BBC


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